SPMS 8th Grade Promotion: Hope for the Future

Nicholas Philipson moved from Canada to South Pasadena before starting the 8th grade thinking no one would like him. On Tuesday he delivered a heartwarming speech how those on campus embraced him.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | South Pasadena 8th graders take their seats for the start of Monday’s promotion at the middle school.

At the start of the school year, Nicholas Philipson had no friends. Zero. As he describes it, the 8th grader was “stranded in a sea of loneliness” at South Pasadena Middle School. Philipson wondered if anyone would be willing to break out of their comfort zone, and take chance on being his friend.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | The courtyard at South Pasadena Middle School was packed for Monday’s promotion at South Pasadena Middle School.

It didn’t happen overnight, but he gradually started making headway.  “Although I sat alone for the first three days of school, something happened to me each one of those days, someone asked me to sit with them. I started to actually believe that the people in the United States of America might actually be nice, contrary to popular belief in Canada,” explained Philipson during his speech entitled “Trying Something New,” delivered on Monday during the middle school promotion. “In fact, this difference that people made by making an effort to include me in their lunch circle was what allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and know that everything would be okay.”

Philipson went on to tell the story, explaining that his math teacher moved him next to a girl a couple of weeks into the school year. “I knew her name from the few other classes we had together, but I had never spoken a word to her before,” he recalled. “I suspected that she was probably nice, but since I was a new kid, she would not want anything to do with the likes of me.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | SPMS 8th Grade Faculty Award winners include: Kiwanis – Noah Kuhn and Isabella Alfonso; Rightmer Award – Michelle Campos; Tiger Leader – Ashlyn Zhang, Sadie Metcalfe and Jeffrey Oh; Spirit Award – Max Jimenez and Kaya Clemons; School Service – Katherine Moses and Samantha Molina; Cindy Rogers – Matthew Vargas; Jeanne Martin Award for Outstanding Achievement – May Yan and Sophie Feng; Marsha Aguirre
Heart of Gold – Lulu Talesnick, Teja Moe and Maddie Hui and Faculty Appreciation – Aidan Bar-Cohen, Audrey Biggar, Ava Feldman, Carolina Garavito, Dori Wang, Evelyn Dowd, Jake Woo, Jonathan Guy, Julie Shadmon, Lauren Calderson, Laurian Lien, Lina Cho, Mason Whang, Quinn Manzo, Pena Pau, Sally Kim and Michael Qi.

Surprisingly, remembers Philipson, the girl took a chance on meeting the new teen. “We were sitting in math after she was moved and this guy next to us was humming to the music he was listening to,” he said. “The teacher by asking him if he wanted to sing to the whole class. He did. And do you know what that girl and I did? We laughed. We laughed so hard that we cried. And then we looked at each other and we knew that we were going to be great friends.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | One student was colorfully dressed wearing Mickey Mouse ears on his cap.

The lesson learned was to “not be too squeamish about your actions,” a quote Philipson learned from American essayist, lecturer, philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. “All life is an experiment. What I think Emerson is trying to say is that when you aren’t afraid to try something new, good things will come to you.”

During his speech, Philipson sent a message to his classmates, saying: “So don’t be afraid to carry this out in each one of your lives. In life, the only way you will be able to succeed is if you look problems in the face and say, ‘I will conquer this.’”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | Michael Ebner, left, gets handshake during promotion from South Pasadena Middle School Principal Dave Kubela.

And conquer it he did, making friendship in a short period of time at South Pasadena Middle School. “I cannot believe or even begin to comprehend the kindness and hospitality that I received when I came to this school,” he said. “When I first caught wind that my family was moving to California, all I could think was, ‘I will have no friends.’ But as this year comes to an end, I remember coming to a new school, scared to death about bullies, but being met with people open to having me in their community.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | South Pasadena Middle School students received their diplomas as the conclusion of the ceremony.

In her speech on “Change,” Quinn Manzo talked about only constant in life being change. “I believe that middle school is an experience that helps us truly realize that the only way to feel comfortable as we go through life is not to try your hardest to make sure everything remains the same,” she said. “It’s to accept and embrace that nothing will ever stay the same. There will always be change. At this age, we have experienced numerous changes: the way we dress, the way we talk, and the way we act. We grow. For me, I’d say I’ve grown just about 5 inches. But above all, we grow as people.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | Shireen Estolano-Sridharan sang the National Anthem to open the program.

Looking at his peers as she spoke, Manzo said she was looking forward to seeing “what we all become. I see extremely talented athletes, leaders, performers, artists, teachers, doctors, scientists, and so much more. There is so much determination and dedication in the hearts of my peers. We’re winners, allies, and survivors. You can sense the endless energy and eagerness as we all wonder what’s next for us.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | SPMS teacher Emily Hoffman recognized the award recipients.

United as one, Manzo told the 2018 SPMS promotion class, “We are strong, we are powerful, and we are not who we used to be. I am no longer the little girl that believed she was too small to fight for change, and too big to follow her dreams. I’m standing here now, nervous but determined. I’ve grown so much more than just 5 inches taller.”

 

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | South Pasadena Middle Students gathered in the courtyard on campus for school’s 2018 Promotion Ceremony.

In his speech, SPMS Principal Dave Kubela talked about why “Millennials Rock,” mentioning his an older brother who likes to pontificate about tkids today. “I remind him that I spend the majority of my day with about 1,100 millennials and I think kids are different than when we went to junior high but mostly for the better.  I tell him that millennials rock.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | ASB members were recognized. The list includes Isabella Alfonso, Sofia Alva, Christian Baydaline, Brynn Buckley, Sarah Chung, Thompson Crocket, Ava Fineza, Caroline Garavito, Aidan Hilger, Maddison Huie, Max Jimenez, Yousef Khan, Mai Koyama, Noah Kuhn, Stephanie Li, Rumaan Mehdi, Sadie Metcalfe, Ella Mizota-Wang, Teja Moe, Katherine Moses, Ruby Mullen, Kyra Nielsen, Tomas Ocegueda, Jeffrey Oh, Joshua Oh, Matthew Ou, Annalea Pearson, D.J. Pearson, Paige Reynolds, Reagan Rogers, Alicia Wilgoren, Annette Woo, Jake Woo, Ethan Xie, Ellie Yamada, Paul Zenas and Ashlyn Zhang.

Kubela pointed out there are some general trends that a lot of researchers see in this new generation that many will probably agree with: “Your generation is made up of multitasking pros and can juggle many responsibilities at once,” he told the class. “Your generation is less into material living and more into experiences. Your generation knows everything there is to know about social media because you are living it. There’s no doubt that the majority of your generation is more tech-savvy than other generations. Your generation appreciates balance in your lives and aren’t as willing as former generations to sacrifice your personal life to achieve your ambitions.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | WEB (Where We Belong) leaders for 2017-18 were recognized. Getting caught up in WEB during the school year were Penny Aboud, Jason Bae, Aidan Bar-Cohen, Audrey Biggar, Hayden Biggar, Maya Bonk, Ellie Campbell, Kadan Chai, Juliet Champagne, Amber Chen, Michelle Chen, Lina Cho, Liam De Villa Bourke, Grace Dennis, Alexandra Doig, Evelyn Dowd, Ava Dunville, Michael Ebner, Shireen Estolano-Sridharan, Isabella Evans, Ava Feldman, Julieta Frias, Jillian Goldstein, Jade Gomez Jonathan Guy, Grant Huntley, Lainee Irribarren, Alexandra Jaeger, Solbi Jung, Alexander Khan, Ha Jun Kim, Emma Kim, Sally Kim, Andrew Kowal, William Krieger, Drew Kawahara, Michelle Lam, Erin Lee, Yubin Lee, James Lejeune, Laurian Lien, Lyric Limqueco, Miranda Liu, Sierra Mackanic, Jessica Mai, Tyler Mallett, Isabella Man, Nikita Mankad, Sophia Maracine, Milan Martin, Micah Matsuoka, Lia Meza, William Michels, Brady Nakamura, Katherine Nam, SeJin Oh, Georgia Parsons, Diana Perea, Leyton Ramos-Platt, Tony Rodz, Alexandra Rolfe, Julia Shadmon, Jaren Sin, Lulu Talesnick, Maya Turun, Sarah Uwabo, Amanda Walton, Dori Wang, Mason Whang, Katie Wilson Ally Xie and Lilian Zhu.

Kubela opened the program and soon turned it over to emcees Christian Baydaline and Jake Woo, who also served as the ASB co-presidents during the school year. An outstanding rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was sung by Shireen Estolano-Sridharan before Kubela was extolling the reasons Millennials rock, evident in the speeches made by Philipson and Manzo, both receiving loud ovations.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | “Final Countdown” was performed by the SPMS jazz ensemble.

South Pasadena Middle School teacher Emily Hoffman recognized the school’s high achieving students, the 8th grade jazz ensemble performed “Final Countdown,” Baydaline & Jake Woo read the names of students receiving diplomas and the school band played “Hail the Conquering Hero” during the recessional.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | ASB Jake Woo and Christian Baydaline emceed the South Pasadena Middle School promotion.

South Pasadena High Principal Janet Anderson welcomed the incoming freshmen to the school, encouraging the newest class to step outside their comfort zone and try something new as they move onto the 9th grade. “Embrace the challenges,” she told the students. “Some will have positive results, some will not, but from each of those things, we learn, we grow and get better at what we do. South Pasadena High is a very safe place for you to try new things. There are lots of clubs, different sports…You will learn so much about yourselves through each thing you try. It’s also a safe place to reinvent yourselves. If there was something you weren’t particularly fond of in your behavior or academics here, you can change it going forward. We are here to support you every step of the way. I am very excited about welcoming you to South Pasadena High School”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier : SouthPasadenan.com | South Pasadena High Principal Janet Anderson addressed the SPMS 8th grade class being promoted. Anderson welcomed the 2018 Class to the local high school.

Anderson reminded the SPMS student body they were moving from Tiger Cubs to Tigers by moving to the local high school campus.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | Students walked by pairs before finding their seats for the start of Monday’s promotion at South Pasadena Middle School.

“And we can’t wait to have you there,” she told the exiting 8th grade class.

Complete Speech by SPMS Principal David Kubela – “Millennials Rock”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier : SouthPasadenan.com | South Pasadena Middle School Principal Dave Kubela delivered a speech: “Millenials Rock.”

Good evening and a special welcome to Board of Education President Elizabeth Eilers, Board of Education Members Dr. Michele Kipke, Dr. Suzie Abajian (A- Baaa-Je-un), Julie Giulioni, and Jon Primuth. From our District Office, Superintendent Dr. Geoff Yantz, Assistant Superintendents Dave Lubs, Christiane Gervais, Dr. Karen Reed, Executive Director Dennis LeFev and from the high school, Principal Janet Anderson. I would also like to acknowledge our many teachers and staff and congratulation Mr. Yim on his retirement and service to SPMS.

To all the parents, family, friends, and students out there, I glad you made it tonight to celebrate this special night for our 8th graders.

Class of 2018: You have made it the end of your time at SPMS. I know your life at the middle school was not always easy. There were higher expectations, more responsibilities and more accountability. The work got harder and you had less time to do your favorite things.

But there were also new experiences and possibilities. You joined the band, the yearbook, after school sports, WEB, ASB, math team, builders club and so much more.  You made contributions to the community: You helped beautify the campus, you organized and supported Pennies for Patients to help cancer patients, you supported the can food drive to help the needy, and many of you volunteered to tutor fellow students. You also collected victories in sports. Many of you participated in the school musicals including “Hairspray” this year.  The band, choir, and orchestra preformed in concerts. The band and Tigerettes marched in parades. There were interesting field trips and dances including the 8th grade dance just last Saturday. And most importantly, you made new friends. With so many high expectations, you met the challenge and your positive contributions have made SPMS a better place.

As you head to high school, you will again have to adapt to a new school, new teachers, a new cafeteria. There will be new experiences as well as new challenges.

You may have noticed that each year has brought more expectations, but also more freedom.  With freedom comes more responsibility. One of those responsibilities is to be active citizen in the democratic process. That’s not always easy and many people feel that their views are not heard. But I think you and your generation can make our country and the world a better place.

You may have noticed that people tend to categorize generations and give them traits. I came from the “baby boomer” generation. People said that our hair was too long, our music was too loud, we didn’t work hard enough and we were going to bring about the end of America as they knew it. The truth is, we had different life experiences and newer technologies. The world was changing.

You were born at the tail end of what many researchers have labeled “millennials” and you’re probably hearing lots of negatives about it-mainly that your generation is too connected to your phone and social media.

I have an older brother who likes to pontificate about the kids today and I remind him that I spend the majority of my day with about 1100 millennials and I think kids are different than when we went to junior high but mostly for the better.  I tell him that millennials rock………

So why do you rock? While we are all individuals and unique there are some general trends that a lot of researchers see in this new generation that many will probably agree with:

Your generation is made up of multitasking pros and can juggle many responsibilities at once.

Your generation is less into material living and more into experiences.

 

Your generation knows everything there is to know about social media because you are living it. There’s no doubt that the majority of your generation is more tech-savvy than other generations.

Your generation appreciates balance in your lives and aren’t as willing as former generations to sacrifice your personal life to achieve your ambitions.

Your generation is extremely team-oriented and enjoys collaborating and building friendships.

And contrary to a stereotype of apathy, a recent study showed that your generation is engaging in political action now more than ever.

In recent months, students here and across the U.S. have united to tell previous generations, the ones in power, that the collective we are letting them down. While protests and walkouts get attention, you have much more power than that to make things better. You have the power of truth, the power of persuasion and in a few years, the most powerful tool a citizen can have-the right to vote and to run for office.

There are two sides to a coin and I encourage you to look beyond the false stories and hyperbole of so much you may see and read. Take the time to get the facts and make informed decisions. I encourage you to respect different points but use your knowledge and your power of persuasion to change minds…. because you are right on the facts. I encourage you to find the date of the first election at which you can vote and be prepared. And consider being one of the next generation of leaders: you can be a board of education member, counsel person, member of the house or senate or even president.

Class of 2018, as you take the next steps on your educational journey remember that you are having different experiences and using newer technologies then the previous generation and that the world is always changing. Understand your strengths and the power of truth, your power of persuasion and your right to vote, and use them to help make the world a better place. And know that I and many others from the generations before you, have faith in you and believe that you have the talents to do amazing them.

Best of luck in high school and beyond.

Complete Speech by Nicholas Philipson – “Trying Something New”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | “Trying Something New” was a speech delivered by student Nicholas Philipson.

 

Thank you Principal Kubela. Good evening teachers, parents, and friends. My name is Nicholas Philipson and I moved to South Pasadena from Canada one year ago. Moving to a different country at the beginning of eighth grade was definitely a challenging experience.

When so many students at this school have been friends since kindergarten, I wondered if anyone would be willing to break out of their comfort zone, and take chance on being friends with me?

At the start of the year, I had no friends. Zero. My parents didn’t even have friends or family in this neighborhood. I was stranded in a sea of loneliness.  Although I sat alone for the first three days of school, something happened to me each one of those days, someone asked me to sit with them. I started to actually believe that the people in the United States of America might actually be nice, contrary to popular belief in Canada. In fact, this difference that people made by making an effort to include me in their lunch circle was what allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and know that everything would be okay.

A couple weeks later, I was in math and the teacher moved this girl next to me. I knew her name and all from the few other classes we had together, but I had never spoken a word to her before. I suspected that she was probably nice, but since I was a new kid, she would not want anything to do with the likes of me. Surprisingly, she took a chance on me. We were sitting in math after she was moved and this guy next to us was humming to the music he was listening to. The teacher responded to this by asking him if he wanted to sing to the whole class. He did. And do you know what that girl and I did? We laughed. We laughed so hard that we cried. And then we looked at each other and we knew that we were going to be great friends.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not be too squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” As we move onto high school and soon the rest of our lives, I want everyone to remember this quote. What I think Emerson is trying to say is that when you aren’t afraid to try something new, good things will come to you. So don’t be afraid to carry this out in each one of your lives. In life, the only way you will be able to succeed is if you look problems in the face and say, I will conquer this. I will survive no matter if it’s just a project or test in school or a big assignment for your future job.

To wrap this all up, I cannot believe or even begin to comprehend the kindness and hospitality that I received when I came to this school.

When I first caught wind that my family was moving to California, all I could think was, “I will have no friends.” But as this year comes to an end, I remember coming to a new school, scared to death about bullies, but being met with people open to having me in their community.

Although I will be moving back to Canada this summer, I will definitely not remember this place for the hard time I got through or the famous people I saw, I’ll remember the great people I met that will stay in my heart forever. Take this message and remember it: it never hurts to try something new, be it moving to a new country or simply talking to someone new. No matter what happens, you will come out of it a new person, changed in a good way.

So, I hope you all enjoyed your time as much as I did here at South Pasadena Middle School, no matter if you were here for three years, two years, or even just one, and thank you Class of 2018, for making this one of the best years of my life.

 

Complete Speech by Quinn Manzo – “Change”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com | Quinn Manzo talked about “Change” during her speech at Tuesday’s South Pasadena Middle School promotion.

 

There is a saying — shared by many different people over the course of time. It has the same idea: the only constant in life is change. I believe that middle school is an experience that helps us truly realize that the only way to feel comfortable as we go through life is not to try your hardest to make sure everything remains the same. It’s to accept and embrace that nothing will ever stay the same. There will always be change. At this age, we have experienced numerous changes:  the way we dress, the way we talk, and the way we act. We grow. For me, I’d say I’ve grown just about 5 inches. But above all, we grow as people.

Many of the changes that affect us are brought on because of our experiences with the people that surround us. I’m proud to say I’ve met people that have changed me drastically. I’ve had friends that have taught me that you don’t always have to be angry to protect yourself.  And I hope I’ve changed some people for the better by showing that it’s important to use your voice. As much as change is terrifying, I believe it is all for the better. We’ve met people that are extremely kind, selfless, and pure-hearted, and they have taught us their ways. But we’ve also had encounters with people that aren’t positive, and that’s okay because they make us stronger and wiser. We have all faced struggles, hard times, those days where you feel like hibernating in your room and indulging in an endless amount of snacks. Even though those times were difficult, we learned from them. From 6th grade to 8th grade, we’ve travelled head-on into a storm, and now, here we are, about to be freshman in high school, barely who we were when we first walked through these halls.

If life were easy, this speech would be about how fun it was that I, along with my peers, feel like I changed overnight. But that’s not the truth. Change happens gradually, and it’s crucial to be patient. You can’t just plant a seed and wake up the next morning to a flourishing garden. It takes determination, it takes courage, and it takes care. I’ve seen countless examples of students, and teachers, making efforts to create change. Whether it’s changing your grades, your work ethic, your relationship with a friend, or the way you treat others, positive change is hard to achieve. It truly puts a smile on my face to see my peers spending extra time to study, picking up trash on the street, or putting their own personal agendas aside to help someone else in need. It gives me hope as we transition to high school, knowing that it’s possible for people to improve and to learn.

Looking at the peers surrounding me, I stand in awe, looking forward to seeing what we all become. I see extremely talented athletes, leaders, performers, artists, teachers, doctors, scientists, and so much more. There is so much determination and dedication in the hearts of my peers. We’re winners, allies, and survivors. You can sense the endless energy and eagerness as we all wonder what’s next for us.

Knowing that we’ve all changed somehow, and knowing that we have learned that change is not only normal, but often good, I offer you the following message: Do not be afraid of change. Do not fear the idea of making change. Raise your voice. Stand up. Show those who have lost hope that the future isn’t set in stone, that the future is up to us. Follow your ambitions. Fight for what is right. Don’t wait for others to take action before you. Make positive change, and those who know what is right will follow. Some think the question that is keeping them from making change for the better is:  “Can I or can’t I?”. Here’s the real question: “Will you, or won’t you?” Everyday we hear the news or read about kids just like us that are changing the world for the better. They made a decision — a decision to not stand idly by, not to save it for tomorrow. Things can be better, and that can happen now, today. An effort is only a failure once you give up. We are strong, we are powerful, and we are not who we used to be. I am no longer the little girl that believed she was too small to fight for change, and too big to follow her dreams. I’m standing here now, nervous but determined. I’ve grown so much more than just 5 inches taller.

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