As a young ice hockey prospect and member of the Boston Advantage 18U team, Jay Leung, a graduating senior from Learning Post Academy, did not have the average teen’s schedule.
While playing in an East Coast tournament, Leung described his academics to teammates who attend prestigious preparatory boarding schools. They condescendingly told Leung he didn’t go to a real school.
“I almost asked him something the whole team was thinking of: ‘Did you just start hockey? You skate like a beginner,’” Leung said during his commencement address Friday, when Learning Post Academy celebrated its largest graduating class yet at the Canyon High School Performing Arts Center.
“Ultimately, I decided not to, as I felt bad for a kid whose entire identity was tied to his school,” he added.
Leung, however, is grateful for his unique educational experience at Learning Post Academy, which allowed him to travel across the country, meet other talented players and compete at high levels of competition all while finishing his high school curriculum.
The special academic journey came a celebratory conclusion for Leung and his 57 fellow graduates on stage, as well the 77 seniors who took part in a dual-enrollment program.
Learning Post is an independent-study program in the William S. Hart Union High School District that gives students the opportunity to obtain an education with flexible schedules. This allows them to focus on their life passions that could propel them to a desired occupation and provides a different class platform for those with learning disabilities.
After the Pledge of Allegiance was delivered by student Jeremiah Ayala, Learning Post Principal Juliet Fine addressed the audience, speaking about the emergence of the artificial intelligence chatbot, Chat GPT. It’s a tool that’s made life easier through technology, but it can never capture the essence of what humanity brings to society, she said.
She also detailed that while AI may try to replicate human experience, it will never experience emotions, endure struggles or seek excellence in its existence.
“Our seniors are human and they are the true goals,” Fine said. “No AI intelligence can ever replace the range of emotions, the challenges that they face and the beauty of life. To our graduates, I am inspired by the gifts that you bring to this world. You bring gifts of love and strong desire to better humanity.”
Following Fine’s speech, Leung and student Kendall Mertan delivered commencement addresses.
Mertan spoke about how the stresses brought into their lives through academics molded her and her fellow graduating class into the model citizens they are today.
“I think I speak for my fellow graduates when I say that these stresses are what brought us here,” Mertan said during her commencement address. “The stress of tests, essays and overarching complaints about classes we chose to take. But these difficulties and pressures are what make us graduating so meaningful.”
After the speeches, several members of the Learning Post staff announced the awards and scholarships being given to select students including California Scholarship Federation, career technical education, National Merits and presidential awards.
Kathy Hunter, assistant superintendent of the Hart district, certified the graduating class and commenced the awarding of diplomas.
As each student’s name was called, a short biography was given to the audience along with the students’ future plans after high school.
“I realized how personal and unique experiences make up us as people just like how books make up a library,” Leung said. “(Learning Post) has enabled us to collect thousands and thousands of books while being a book in and of itself. Therefore, I am thankful for what this unique school has given me.”