The Senior Sunrise

Keynote Speech on a HS Senior Tradition

Paolo Espiritu


Today, we celebrate the start of a new tradition at San Jose High School – the Senior Sunrise –  to symbolize the start of your Senior year.  For some, this means you have made it, while for others, it means it’s your last stop until you move on to bigger and better things. For more of you, this signifies the beginning of the end, an end you may not be looking forward to. I ultimately know my words today will fail to capture what this year signifies for each and everyone of you.  So, I can only share what this year means to me.

It means I have to say good-bye.  I have to accept the fact that, in a year from now, I will no longer see you walking down the halls.  It also means that I won’t be able to shake your hand, hear you laugh, nor see your smile.  Then, the more I think about it, the sadder I get, because you guys are San Jose High to me.  Before I had you guys as sophomores, the previous sophomores did a number on and made me doubt if I should even be a teacher in San Jose.  Frankly, my first year sucked. And I was so close to leaving. When you came into my class, I was shaken, but you all managed to make me believe and hope again.  For that, I’m forever grateful, so I made a promise to myself that no matter what, I would stay until your senior year, so that I could be there support you all, as you all supported me.  

Now, we are here and I’m one of those people who’s not ready to say goodbye yet. I know I’m being selfish, but it just means you all mean a lot to me.  To ease the knot in my chest I have, I have to take solace in the fact that I have this year to say and make my peace with you all.  I’m not sure how that will look or feel, but  I know I have to start thinking about it. Today I ask you, the Seniors, the class of 2015, how do you want spend your last year? I know I’m asking a lot but by doing so and coming up with a plan, so you may leave here with no regrets.  I know all of us have them but this is the year not too.

So for those who never participated in March Madness, this is your year.

For those who never went to homecoming, this is your year.

Then most importantly, For those who never had the courage to speak up for something they believe in, this your year.

For a life with no regrets is a life well spent!!!    

So spend your life, your senior year, and today striving to have no regrets.  So as the sun rises on us today, let me end by saying carpe diem, seize the day.  Thank you, and let’s make this year great.


Paolo Espiritu is an educator at San Jose High School where he is the current Filipino Student Union advisor. Before moving to San Jose, he worked in Los Angeles, both as an educator and community organizer.  He has worked with Justice for Filipino American Veterans, Fil-am Arts, SIPA (Search to Involve Pilipino Americans), and the Pilipino Workers Center.  He credits his work with the community and his students for making him the person he is today.