Traditionally a valedictorian is honored with the emotional task of closing out a graduation ceremony with a farewell speech.
This, however, does not apply to Chula Vista High School.
Chula Vista’s oldest high school has its own policy of deciding who delivers the valedictory address.
With a 4.50 grade point average, Aldo Arellano is Chula Vista High School’s valedictorian, but because of Chula Vista High School’s policy, he won’t be giving the farewell speech.
“My school has a different policy on speeches,” Aldo said. “So I actually had to audition to give a speech, and I was not chosen to give a speech. It is really unfortunate actually. I was really looking forward to it.”
Aldo said he is upset about how the process has played out, and he said he is doing everything he can to make sure he is the one to give the speech to this year’s graduating class.
“I just learned about the process,” he said. “I am currently trying to fight that decision.”
Four seniors, Aldo said, were selected to give a speech during graduation, and he wasn’t one of them.
Aldo said he suspects that the panel that selects the speakers wanted a speech that had charisma and humor, not one full of sincerity, which Aldo said was the tone of his speech.
“I know my speech was geared toward a serious aspect, giving advice, as should be the nature of the valedictory address. Perhaps they were looking for something else, something more amusing to a larger audience. I really don’t know.”
“Hopefully I can change the decision.”
Chula Vista High School Principal Steve Lizarraga said auditioning to give a commencement speech is a tradition at the school.
“We have a long-standing tradition at Chula Vista High School where we open up the opportunity for all seniors to contribute a graduating speech,” Lizarraga said.
Lizarraga said Aldo will get a chance to deliver a speech at the cap and gown assembly, but not at graduation.
Aldo said his proudest moment throughout high school is not passing five advance placement exams or getting admitted to the Ivy League Dartmouth College, it is being his school’s valedictorian.
Aldo’s grades and underprivileged background made him a recipient of the Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship. The Gates Scholarship covers all college costs through graduation.
Aldo said he plans to double major in biology and English at Dartmouth.
His future plans include writing high school textbooks to make them easier to understand.
“Something I would like to pursue in the future is writing textbooks, because I know as a student, reading a textbook now is a challenge,” he said.
“It’s a challenge to get the information out of it to be successful. You shouldn’t have to work so hard to get the information out of it.”
Aldo said even if he loses his fight to deliver the commencement speech, he has no regrets on his high school years.