Bethlehem High gave me a voice

Avani Patel
Bethlehem High School

Graduation is less than a month away, and my classmates and I are finishing strong. We all say that we are ready to graduate, but in our hearts, we know that we are going to miss this place and everything it has taught us.

The faculty and staff have been mentors and role models for all of us. I am the strong and independent woman I am today because of Bethlehem. It has given me some priceless relationships; however, most importantly, Bethlehem has given me a voice.

Bethlehem gave me the opportunity and encouraged me to voice my opinion. Prior to attending Bethlehem I was a very shy, timid person whose activity was definitely not public speaking. The teachers constantly pushed their students to educate each other through presentations because the teachers know how we students can change the world if we just use our voice.

Through the speech team, I was able to use my voice to deliver speeches to the community on issues that need awareness. For example, junior year, I brought the story of Malala Yousafzai to life, and raised awareness on women’s education rights.

Senior year I did a dramatic interpretation of a story that highlighted child trafficking in Asia and how it is up to us to put a stop to it. The opportunity I received to use my voice to raise awareness on global issues left a mark on my life. Bethlehem has taught me that my voice and opinion matter and will be taken into consideration.

No longer am I afraid to talk to a stranger about any topic because Bethlehem gave me the confidence I needed. This school has taught me to use my voice to make the lives of others better.
I transferred to Bethlehem sophomore year from Tennessee, and I was pretty anxious to see how I would fit in. That first day I started, all I heard was the phrase “Bethlehem Family.” Everyone told me that I was a part of this family, and it gave me a sense of belonging.

Most of my classmates have known each other since they were little kids, but I have known them for three years. However, not once did they make me feel like I do not belong. This sense of belonging allowed me to say what I wanted and voice my opinion without fearing what others would think.

At the talent show I performed a Bollywood dance which I would not have been able to do if I was not encouraged to use my voice and be myself.

Students and teachers welcomed me with open arms, and that is what is so special about Bethlehem. It is a close, tight-knit community that is always there for each other; it is truly the Bethlehem family.

As I reflect over these past three years at Bethlehem, they were truly the best years of my life. I switched schools five times, but when I came to Bethlehem, my life changed for the better.

It gave me a new family and a new community. The valuable lessons I have learned here and the relationships I have formed with my fellow classmates, underclassmen and faculty and staff will forever stay with me.

The class of 2019 will be heading out of Bethlehem soon, but no one will ever be able to take Bethlehem out of the class of 2019. We will not leave silently.