Valedictorian Speeches 2020: Angel Alvarado and Ashley Estrada

Angel Alvarado, Contributor

Angel Alvarado, Ross Center

Hello, Class of 2020. My name is Angel Alvarado and I’m your Ross Valedictorian. To be frank, I’m not sure how to start this as such a celebratory day is finally upon us and I’m so proud we were all able to make it here. First, I’d like to thank the administrators and faculty that organized this event for us, as their efforts show and it’s absolutely incredible that we are able to have an in-person graduation.  I’d also like to give a shout-out to the friends that have personally helped me along the way.

We have all grown so much in the last twelve years of our education and it’s such a great feeling to celebrate that we’ve made it this far.  Isn’t it incredible that we’ve made it through these twelve or thirteen years of schooling, making memories along the way and finally celebrating its completion?  The memories are unique to each of us and the lessons we’ve learned from those experiences have brought us to this very day.  I’m proud that while we sometimes struggled to figure out what to do at moments, we all grew together and the experiences of our academic life, although different for every person, still impacted us and made us who we are today.

Personally, one of my favorite memories is of 6th grade at North Middle when our principal remarked that in 6 years we would look back at the time and wonder where it all went. While there may have only been about 200 of us in that auditorium, across the district, throughout East, South, and West as well, we were all starting our first year of middle school apart and yet together. This is just one seemingly insignificant moment of our education, and yet, it was one of many moments in a new stage of our lives as we began our secondary education. These small things and small moments have led us to this remarkable moment, our high school graduation, the culmination of all these small moments that allowed us to grow.

In contrast to the seemingly minor experiences in life, we are living in one of the most significant moments of our time, and yet when we FaceTime a friend or connect with others even while physically distanced – those are the moments that matter.  We are still able to share in others’ experiences and grow from the unique challenges all of us are facing right now. We all may not be physically together, hand in hand every moment of every day, but we are still growing together as the Class of 2020.

The reality is that we are going our separate ways, and it is as important to look towards the future as it is to reminisce on our shared past. Our challenges and successes will be unique to each of us, allowing us to grow in our own ways. Just as over these last 12 years we have watched each other learn how to think for ourselves, find our own dreams, navigate through relationships, seek the help that we need, and find balance between what the world wants for us versus what we believe is right, what lies ahead can be a continuation of these lessons and more.

Now, as we sit at the precipice of adulthood, we can appreciate the growth we’ve made along the way from all the small challenges life has given us, as well as the larger hurdles we’ve  overcome, taking these lessons with us as we navigate the rest of our lives. While the current pandemic may have made it difficult to graduate together, here we are! We have overcome this smaller hurdle, next we will overcome this enormous hurdle, and we will grow from its effects together. I thank you all for listening and wish you happiness in everything you do. May we all continue to grow from life’s many experiences. Thank you.


Ashley Estrada, Sonderling Center

Hello, Class of 2020!

My name is Ashley Marie Estrada and I am proud to be named the Ross Salutatorian of this amazing class. Before I start, I would like to take this time to say thank you.  First and foremost, thank you God and thank you to every person that makes up our Brentwood family: our teachers, administration, custodians, kitchen staff, parents, and grandparents.  I know we are all grateful for your hard work, love, and support during these past 12 years of our education.

Now, I direct myself to our graduating class of 2020. I understand that this is definitely not the way we planned on graduating high school, but we should look past that, and be so proud of ourselves for making it this far. These four years of high school have most certainly molded us into the individuals we are now. One of the most influential aspects of our educational experience is the relationships we’ve formed – those we’ve made, lost, and kept along the way. Every person that we interact with has an impact on our lives and causes us to change in one way or another.

Our families, related through blood or not, have played a major role in helping us transform into who we are today. They are our first teachers and enlighten us on many life lessons that are crucial as we head towards adulthood. In my case, my beautiful and strong mother, Fabiola Alicia Arevalo, taught me so much about life through her own experiences of being a single mother who was not fluent in English at the time. She shows me what independence looks like and how it is important to value and acknowledge your worth, even when others make that hard for you. She shows me that there is nothing that can stand in your way towards success if you are dedicated and persevere. Her influence in my life is like no other, and I truly hope that we all have an adult who is like this for us; someone who we look up to and with whom we have a relationship from which we can learn and grow.

We tend to assume that teachers are only put in our lives to teach us book knowledge, but the relationships we form with them are more meaningful than that. Their purpose is much greater. Our teachers are constantly instilling fundamental life lessons in us that will be useful, even in the future. These amazing adults have helped us get to where we are now, and I am confident that we all have at least one teacher who we will never forget and may keep in contact with for years to come. We are very grateful to have formed meaningful relationships with most of our teachers, and even with those who never had us as a student. These relationships helped us feel safe and comfortable at school, which not only allowed us to grow as students, but also as people.

High school also allows us to learn more about ourselves through the relationships we form with classmates. We cannot forget about the friends that we have made and lost during these years. Since we come from the largest school district on Long Island, we have four middle schools that combine into one. Thanks to this diversity, in high school, we had the opportunity to interact with new people.  As a result, I was a part of multiple friend groups, and each exposed me to distinct personalities.  My experiences with them helped me realize that there are certain personal characteristics of mine that should change – positively and negatively.  It is through these experiences in high school that we learn the true meaning of friendship and how to trust others.

This pandemic has highlighted the value of deep relationships, as well as the importance of casual interactions that brought joy to our day.  Just as we have met people in high school that have changed us, there are still so many that await us as we journey through adulthood. We should learn to welcome the little detours of life because they can lead us to places and people we never dreamed we’d encounter. While we all may be going our separate ways, we should never forget the lessons we learned from every single person we meet. We are constantly evolving and should keep an open mind and open heart to new people and relationships we will encounter; for it is through each of these that we continue to become better versions of ourselves.

We are Brentwood Strong. God bless the class of 2020!