Poonam Dehal knows that growth happens.
She’s seen it. She’s lived it.
When Dehal stepped up to the podium at Guss Schmiedt Field Friday night to deliver the Valedictorian’s address to the graduating class of 2014, she said she realized she was a completely different person than the one that arrived on campus four years ago.
She saw things differently. Her entire outlook and perspective had changed.
And that’s good. While high school can be an awkward period of adjustment, it can also be one of self-discovery. For one, she bought into the whole high school experience and everything that it could provide her as she learned more about the people that were different than her – the Section champion winning football players in their indigo hats, the homecoming queen, the state champion cross country winner.
Whether it was the people she befriended along the way, those that gave a casual glance in the hallway or those that stuck by her side through thick and thin, Dehal said that her time as a Manteca High Buffalo have made her into the person that she is today – a high school graduate staring at the crossroads of life.
Most of all she was thankful.
“I thank my Mom for bringing me into this world and my Dad for reading me all of those books and teaching me how to draw the most amazing stick figures ever,” she said – pulling her cap down as the wind tore across the stadium. “And to my 1995 Honda Accord – we made it baby. Literally. Good luck to everybody.”
Senior Class President Bilal “Billy” Sharmoug took the more nostalgic – and humorous – route.
“I know that you’re all sitting there wondering, ‘Why are they letting him speak?’ And honestly, I have no idea, so I plan on taking full advantage,” he said.
Sharmoug talked about the glory of the gridiron and how he just recently heard his “good friend,” Denzel Washington, say that a dream without goals is nothing more than a dream.
But he also pointed out the final words of advice of Mr. George Feeny – the stern yet wise teacher on long-running ABC sitcom Boy Meets World.
“In the words of the immortal Mr. Feeny, ‘Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good.’ And no matter what, we’ll always be two-time section champions.”