For me it’s a privilege and honor to be able to share this moment with you, albeit via the written word. i would like to congratulate the graduating students and wish you much success with your goals and future. I would also like to exhort you not to allow anyone or anything to stop you from achieving the goals you set for yourself. No matter how big the obstacle or how hard and difficult the challenge dare to face it and deal with it. Dare to talk the talk and to walk the walk. Dare to struggle and dare to succeed.

Life is a learning process – we never stop learning unless we choose to. We learn by doing things and by the mistakes we make in the process. Every problem created by the human animal has a solution, even the ones that seem insurmountable. When we tackle a problem and we fail we must try again and again until we find a solution. If a single one can’t do it by himself or herself then he or she should seek help. It might take a few individuals or a community or a whole nation to find a solution. What’s important is never to give up no matter the trials and tribulations that it takes. The impossible is that that doesn’t get done.

I’ll use Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School as an example. When the idea of starting an alternative school for Puerto Rican students was being discussed the nay sayers would say that it was an impossible objective. We had no money, no materials, no physical facility and no experience. But those obstacles and challenges didn’t deter us from going ahead with the experiment. A Puerto Rican minister, the Rev. Jose Hernández, told us we could use his church. Different people, young and old committed themselves to be teachers or tutors. We scrounged and got some basic materials (even using what others considered obsolete objects) and got St. Mary’s HS (an all girl Catholic school) to share its accreditation with what became the Puerto Rican HS. After the first year, Rev. Hernández told us we had to move from his church. We purchased a burn out building and had fixed it to house the school. But some of the neighbors got together and decided not to allow us to use the building for the school. So we had to approach St. Aloysius and rent their school building. In order to raise the needed money we even washed cars. Eventually a building was purchased and the school – by that time known as the Rafael Miranda HS- finally had its own place.

Much of the work was done through trial and error. At times we got rid of teachers and students in order to keep the school going. We faced ideological differences and differences over the school’s goals. We did what we thought needed to be done and the school survived. It even survived attacks by forces that didn’t want the school to succeed.

I take this opportunity, also, to congratulate and thank the staff and the other hard workers who make the school a reality and dare to make it better. And i would like to thank and congratulate the rest of the students who have chosen to attend PACHS. Without you there would be no reason for the school to exist. Study hard and learn as much as possible. Stay in school, think critically and become a problem solver and not a problem maker. Fill your hearts with love and compassion and never turn your backs on an injustice. A better and more just world is possible as long as we dare to struggle for it. Life is all a struggle, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the good things it offers you. Have fun and learn. En Resistencia y Lucha, OLR.

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