We Are The Class of 2009: My Graduation Speech

On June 9, 2009, senior student at Edison High School Jesse Andrews delivered the following commencement speech. Jesse is a Youth Journalist for The kNOw and will attend Morehouse College in the fall.
We are the class of 2009, a group of youth inspired by the past that has brought us here, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Family Matters, and Full House to weekend shows like, Spiderman, X-Men, and heck, some of y’all even remember Sesame Street.

We grew up with fashions that were out of this world. Colors that didn’t exactly match; denim overalls, acid wash jeans and chucky shoes. Musical icons like Aaliyah, Brandy, Green Day and many others who rendered all they had to tell their stories.

We are the class of 2009, groups of youth challenged by our present, through lost loved ones, the epidemics that have swept the country, we still haven’t allowed that to suffocate our tiger pride and hinder our success.

[pullquote_right]President Barack Obama has redefined America and youth are on the move. Edison High School has produced something great.[/pullquote_right]

We are class of 2009, a group of youth excited about our future. President Barack Obama has redefined America and youth are on the move. Edison High School has produced something great. A group of future doctors ready to challenge the health care system and find cures to diseases that were said to be incurable. A group of future lawyers who will stand up for the justice system with higher standards of the way we handle justice. A group of future business women and men who won’t conduct business as usual.

I have seen them and I have had the opportunity to be a friend to many. They are ready to maximize the true potential in their lives and the lives of others. Ready to help the needy and ready to shift the cultural ties, ready for change. A change in the way we define the sociological aspects of life, as we know it. A change in the way we educate America.

Why? Because Edison has produced the best of the best. Four years of defining who we are, four years of reconstructing values, four years of friendships.

We are the class of 2009, a group of youth using their past to propel them into the future. We will be successful, we will be remarkable, and we will be life-changers! No matter what we go through, we will rise again to the occasion and beyond.

Congratulations to The kNOw members who graduated this year:

  • Jesse Andrews
  • Victoria Phosykeo
  • LaKenya Stamps
  • Dasen Thao
  • Marcus Vega
  • Patrice Word
The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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