Dana Hills faculty, teachers, parents, and the class of 2018. You may not know me,you may not know my story, but you have forever impacted me.
I have always loved the ocean. Not only is it a beyond beautiful and peaceful place to be, it is a place of acceptance. Its waters know no boundaries from the shores of Salt Creek to the beaches of Africa. I am sure many of you beach kids would agree, the ocean is pretty amazing; but, | what I find even more intriguing is that few of us ever look to the ocean with fear. While Jaws may have forever installed the “da-na-da-na nuh” song in our head when we swim further out at sea, it is uncommon for us to fearthe crashing waves and strong swells that are straight in front of us.
I came to Dana Point less than two years ago, right before my junior year began. I walked in the front doors on the first day of school to an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar faces. I left that very same day with some of my closest friends for the rest of my life. Within the first day, I bumped into Ned, the Activities Director, aka “The Podfather”, who helped me fit right in with more than 100 friends in ASU. I met a boy who tore a calculator apart just to put it back together for fun in my AP Calculus class, and a girl who wore a different color shoe on each foot every day of the week in my AP Language class. Best of all, everyone was asking, “HEY Dana, how do you feel? I felt more than oh so good; I felt at home.
Sooner than expected, fitting in wasn’t my worry. Every kid stood out from one another. I never encountered a single student at Dana who was fearfulto be themselves. Dana Hills was my ocean, and fear was never a component. This school is not like most.
Students at Dana Hills find comfort in the unknown. We embarrass ourselves on the gym floor of rallies in order to get the Clash of the Classes “3-peat”, we sing our hearts to the ends of the nation through the South Orange County School of the Arts Program, and we put our brains to the test in the hardest proofs of Calculus BC.
As a transfer student, I probably hold a different perspective of Dana than most of you. It is not often that a high school teen can confidently state that their surrounding peers and encouraging school shaped the person they stand before today as. Dana (Hills), I can proudly exclaim that if it weren’t for each of you helping make this a school of acceptance, not even my toes would have touched the shores of the ocean I swim in today. Thank you, Dana, for teaching me to be fearless in the midst of the unknown.
We are quickly approaching our next ocean. For some, it is college, for others, the work force, the military, or traveling abroad.