A Message From the 2018-2019 Valedictorian to the Students of Hillcrest

Alonzo Arostegui, Staff Writer

Hello, Hillcrest students, my name is Alonzo Arostegui, and I am the valedictorian of the 2018-2019 graduating class.

At the time of writing this, I am less than two weeks away from graduating from Hillcrest and pursuing my career as an Aerospace Engineer at the University of Illinois. Although many of you may be reading this during a time of stress, worry, anticipation, or discovery, I am at a time for thinking inspirational thoughts, contemplating what the future holds, and reflecting on past endeavors. As a result, I am taking the time to write this letter to all of you, with the hope that I can pass on some words of wisdom. Now, I can already hear some of you thinking, “Oh great, some other smart kid trying to tell me how to run my life. I don’t need this”. However, before you click off, I want you to know that I am not writing this to preach my ideology of how people should go about their high school lives. I simply want to give you my two-cents in a way that allows you to take something, no matter how small, and use it to either better yourself or enjoy high school more. If you gain nothing from this article, that’s fine, I’m just glad you bothered to read this. With that said, let’s move on.

The best is just on the horizon, never stop seeking it.

You may now nostalgically review the past few years as an exciting blur of joining interesting clubs, interacting with caring teachers, and creating special friendships. Some of you older students may even cherish memories born out of Hillcrest High School, such as participating in exciting extracurricular activities and finally (!) learning to drive. However,  I am sure that you, my fellow classmates, will also agree that high school was and/or is not without its struggles and challenges. What you have learned from and how you have persevered through these challenges is preparing you for life after high school.

My challenges may not have been exactly the same as yours, but I am sure you can relate in some way. I am sure we all understand the pressure of choosing the right high school courses that offer the best options for us after graduation, or practicing the self-control and time management necessary to be successful academically with a demanding course load and extracurricular clubs. At Hillcrest, we have developed valuable skills that we must continue to hone and must carry with us and apply in our future endeavors.

We persisted, we struggled, and most of all, we succeeded.  And we must, under no circumstances, ever give up on our future dreams. As said by British statesman Winston Churchill’s statement, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

As you contemplate your monumental journey ahead, I want each of you reading this to please take time to LOOK. Look back. Maybe just take an occasional glance back – not to dwell on past mistakes or wallow in regrets, but to remember lessons you’ve learned, fondly recall your cherished experiences, and take pride in how far you have come. Look around. Look around at the peers, close friends, teachers and family members that have inspired you and given you faith and strength. And finally, look forward. Look forward to embarking on new adventures, tackling new challenges, setting new goals, dreaming new dreams, and welcoming the unknown that lies ahead!

Last, but most importantly, I want you to make sure that you express your sincere thanks and gratitude to all the important people on this journey with you. You should greatly appreciate the thoughtful, caring and patient Hillcrest teachers and staff that motivate you when you feel like giving up and support you through your academic and personal stresses.  I feel fortunate to have had creative, dedicated teachers who inspired me, opened up new worlds, helped me think outside of the box and fueled a passion in me for learning beyond the textbook. Undeniably, your families deserve your utmost thanks for their unwavering support, nurture, and love through your formative years. Regardless of who makes up your family, without the security and solid foundation they have provided, achieving the accomplishments you have achieved or are in the process of achieving would be impossible.

To anyone who has made it this far, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to what I had to say. I hope that in some way, I have uplifted your spirits or given you some measurable piece of inspiration for your future years.

I sincerely wish you the best, and trust me: The best is just on the horizon, never stop seeking it.