Sunday, June 10, 2012

An Address to the WCCUSD School Board

An address to the WCCUSD School Board and public from ILC alum and current Yale student Austin Long:

Good Evening.

I would first like to thank the School Board for giving me the chance to speak here tonight, parents and students for being here, sponsors for your continued support, dedication, and affirmation of the importance of the advancement of West Contra Costa Unified School District students, and Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Don for all their hard work in continuing the Ivy League Connections.

My name is Austin Long. I am a rising sophomore at Yale University, and a proud product of the WCCUSD. I spent kindergarten through eighth grade at Stewart Elementary and Middle School, graduated from Pinole Valley High School last year, and through the Ivy League Connection I participated in the Brown Techniques in DNA-Biotechnology course.

We are all gathered here tonight because of a common interest in bettering our students and no program exemplifies this like the Ivy League Connection. This is my third time standing here before the WCCUSD School Board for the ILC, and each time it becomes more and more apparent to me just how important this program is, not just to our students, but to our community.

To me, the ILC is exactly what all school districts should be doing to encourage and breed excellence in its students. It is a community of scholars, all with the common goal of education and learning through community collaboration. The ILC doesn't just send students to the East Coast for a summer program, it sends out students with a passion to learn and brings home scholars with a passion to lead, to use to skills they have learned and the connections they have made to make our schools and our community a better place.

These students here before you are some of the best that our district has, and the ILC invests into them, into the idea that by giving our students a chance to visit the pinnacle of education, to compete against the most elite, to experience all that  higher education has to offer, we give our students the competitive edge and skills they need to not only excel in college, but in whatever field they pursue.

This is because the ILC is a community effort, between the School Board, parents, sponsors, and community leaders, who all collaborate to give our students a chance to be competitive against the others who may have come from more affluent or privileged backgrounds. And believe me, our students are competitive. No matter what has been said about our District, when it comes down to it, our students do not disappoint.

The importance of the ILC is this: that we are giving our best and brightest a chance to be with the best, and even still there to be the best among the best. And we know that there, in the hallowed halls of knowledge on the East Coast, they will find and discover themselves and their own true potential.

To all of the students here: you have the capacity and the capability to do this. Your only barriers are the ones you perceive, for your path to success from here is clear. Your only obstacle is you, because only your own self-doubt can hold you back. No other person, problem, reason, or entity can prevent you from achieving your full potential. For your sake, and for ours, believe in yourself and all that you can do, because our community and country, especially in times like now, needs great people. We are counting on you to be those great people in the future.

You should all be very proud of yourselves for being selected for this program. And we are so proud to have you represent us.

Thank you.