DOWNEY – Facing skyrocketing tuition costs and the worst employment prospects in a generation in which more than half of all university graduates are working jobs that don’t require college degrees, the Downey class of 2012 took a hedonistic approach to the future.
YOLO. You Only Live Once.
The popular social media catchphrase was mentioned by several speakers during Thursday’s graduation ceremony at Downey High School.
Speaker Rebekah Jin used the phrase to encourage students to avoid the cliché of calling high school the best years of their lives and to instead make the best years take place in the future. Her speech title, “We’ve only just begun,” was an apt title and a clever reference to Downey’s favorite soft-pop balladeers.
Graduating senior Kimberly Matamoros used YOLO in her speech, too.
She’s deaf, and she used American Sign Language and an interpreter during her speech to tell her classmates, teachers and staff that the little things mattered, like teachers who printed out notes or took the time to find out how to work the closed caption on the television set. Downey High made her feel comfortable, she said.
“Downey is one of the few places you will find hearing and deaf students… in the same place,” she said.
Most of the speakers waxed nostalgic about the past more than guessing at the future, while many in the crowd seemed to ignore the talks while they chatted.
One of the few featured students to cut through the din was David Kang, who sang “We Are Young” by Fun. Students clapped along and the crowd even joined for a few beats before Kang polished off the song to cheers from the thousands in attendance.
Graduates had a pretty good reason to take a carpe diem-esque tact in their speeches, Matamoros said.
After all, 2012 is the year that the Maya calendar ominously hinted may be the end of time.
Then again, maybe not.
“We believe deep down,” she said. “That the world doesn’t end in 2012.”