Letters from teachers

Dear Class of 2013:

Over the years, I have watched you grow and transform into young adults. I am so proud of each and every one of you. Thank you so much for reminding me each day why I value and enjoy teaching and education. This past year has been a remarkable journey. Thank you for all your kind words, for your sense of humor, and above all, your hard work. You have made my first year of teaching seniors a true joy.

Dr. Mardirosian



Dear Seniors Who Once Had the Davises,

Wow! Here we are two years after we gave you your parting gift of a pen upon your completion of our Humanities class. Mr. Davis and I were talking at Prom earlier this month about how much you all have grown in the two years since we had the pleasure of being your teachers. Just as the girls at Prom teetered on those impossibly high heels that really are the invention of the devil, so you all teeter on the brink of your adult life where the choices you make really will put you on a path that at times you will only see after you have forged (followed?) it.

I love seeing some of you come back into the 1329/1331 room(s) and reminisce about your days amidst these walls. You seem to find comfort in the fact that little has changed since you sat here on a daily basis. Elizabeth still hangs above my desk (faded from the sun, but still her virginal white as depicted by Cate Blanchett), recommending reader books still grace the bookshelves though no one recommended the Hunger Games trilogy at all this year, and Mr. Davis desk is still far more tidy and efficient than my own. You are always welcome in 1329/31 should you need to return to the familiar when you visit Clark in your alumni days. We hope you will visit us.

Often times, in these letters, I write a few comments to some individuals that I particularly remember from their sophomore year. It is to your credit as a class that there are simply too many of you this year to whom I would like to address a personal comment, and alas, Hasmik has not given teachers that much space. Also, I would feel bad to leave any of you out; you were all so memorable in so many ways. Whether it was a masterful democracy speech, a publisher-worthy children’s book, a vibrant wikipage, an intense desire to improve that kept you here enrichment after enrichment, or a hilarious acting job for our year-in-the-news interview broadcasts, you left your mark in this room!

What I will do in this space is give you some advice that I was given when I graduated high school and that I think is worth passing on to you (consider me the Old Major of the Animal Farm that is Humanities). Treat each day as an opportunity. Every day, you have the ability to learn something new or to teach someone else something new. If you ever feel you are stuck in a rut, STOP, reassess, and change direction. If you treat each day as an opportunity for meaning, you are less likely to find yourself at the end of a road you had no intention of going down. Be the driver, not the passenger on that road. This is a lot of metaphor, I know, but those metaphors of the path and the road exist because they are so appropriate at this stage in your life.

Mr. Davis and I were so happy to travel with you on a very small part of your road. We hope you will “drive” back our way and visit us. Best wishes, always!

– Mrs. Davis



Many events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has entered. I will just say thank you. Thank you for sharing the mornings when buses and cars would file in and we would slowly gather inside these walls and intertwine our lives. Thank you for your insightful thoughts and bright smiles throughout the day…and thank you for leaving this place a better place for those who follow.

May you always find patience in yourselves enough to endure and simplicity enough to believe.

The road’s a long way walking – thanks for keeping me company.

Much love,
Mrs. Guarino



Dear Seniors,
No you cannot graduate! I’m just getting to know you! Remember the fun we had in sophomore PE, well, most of you did. As I’ve watched you grow up, competing in Intramurals, assisting me as a TA and helping with the class in Sports Tech, we have become friends. How proud I am of what you have accomplished with your Senior Projects, especially the many I mentored as you gave me the opportunity to watch it all unfold. You’ve also become my kids, children I never had, but unlike a real mom, I only get to have you for 4 short years. Thanks for all the memories you have created and shared with me. Those times will bring me smiles after you go until you come back to tell me of your successes and share with me your challenges. Wow, didn’t it go fast? So, where will you go what will you do? It’s all up to you now. Just remember “don’t try so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out”.
I’ll miss you!
– Miss Thomsen



Dear Seniors,

You are a unique class in many ways. Probably the most unique characteristic is that some of you started your freshman year with me as your Spanish teacher. Then, the following year, when you thought you were done with me, you were in total shock that I was your geometry teacher! Your junior year I became your class advisor and now, your senior year, I am counselor to half of you.

You are now about to enter a new chapter in your lives. A chapter that will be full of changes. Some of you are eagerly awaiting these changes, others not so much. Just remember, whatever crosses your path, you have the skills to face up to it and meet the challenge.

Someone has said that “every accomplishment begins with the decision to try.” I believe that as Clark graduates you have learned this lesson. The easy way out is to avoid challenges, but your teachers, staff and administration here at Clark have pushed you to pursue excellence. This, alone, is a life-long skill that you will learn to cherish.

We all want the “good life.” Just remember, whatever your definition of a “good life” is, it will not come to you without hard work, planning and overcoming hurdles. These are all skills that we have tried to instill in you at Clark Magnet. Set your goals, then strive to achieve them. Thomas Edison said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.”Be sure to come back and share your accomplishments with us either in person or via email. We are proud of each and every one of you and know that you will make your mark in this world.

– Mrs. Howe (a.k.a. giraffe lover)



Class of 2013:

Do you know your potential? Do you realize that you can achieve great things? I believe in you – all of you. Be willing to work toward your goals. If you haven’t applied yourself yet – do it NOW. If you have been working so hard and are getting tired – take a break – just enough to give yourself some time to reflect. Then keep on working toward your goals!!
Be willing. Be energetic. Go for it!

— Mrs. Bondy



To the graduating class of 2013:

Congratulations!!! You made it!!!!

My dear seniors! Thank you for making my years at Clark enjoyable and rewarding. I have enjoyed knowing you and working with you. I believe every single one of you is talented in some way and I am proud of who you are and what you can be. A new journey waits for you after high school – adulthood. No matter what bump or stumble along the way, I am confident that you will figure out what works for you and you will stick with it and find the path that is right for you. I wish I could write individual messages, but I would run out of space and time. Just remember: Whoever you become — keep your integrity, maintain a good attitude and have a big smile on your face.

I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors and looking forward to your success stories. You have a special place in my heart. I love you all dearly and I will cherish our friendship forever . . .

Sincerely yours,
Karine Turdjian



Dear Seniors,

I spoke to you recently about the challenges you faced at Clark Magnet and why you should continue to challenge yourself and should not take the easy path or the shortcut. I referenced a speech given by then President John F. Kennedy at Rice University on September 12, 1962, advocating his decision to go “all in” for the race to land the first human on the moon. His speech could serve as a metaphor for your time at Clark Magnet and why we should continue to choose our challenges, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” An excerpt of this speech follows, and I would argue that it is as true today, as it was 50 years ago. See what you think…

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it – we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain. Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Congratulations to the Class of 2012. We are proud of your achievements and your potential to overcome your challenges to make a positive contribution in the world. Not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And because you have been prepared for it.

Your Principal,
Mr. Dall



Graduating Class of 2013:

Congratulations on finishing high school! For most of you, the next season of your life will be college, some to trade schools and some to serve proudly in the United States military.

Some advice to help you through the next season(s) of life:

In college, trade school or the military, work hard to absorb as much of the material as possible.

If you go to college, get a degree that will help you get a job.

Life is hard, be ready for disappointment. Learn from them and overcome.

Be as diversified as possible to both get a job and keep a job. The job market out there is tough and is only going to get harder.

Save as much money as possible; you’re going to need it.

Buy a used car and then drive it until it dies; don’t buy new cars until you’re well established.

Seek counsel from friends and family; your parents are smarter than you give them credit.

When you get married, never stop dating and getting to know your spouse.

Enjoy living in the United States of America. You live in a great country where the sky is the limit if you try hard enough.

Take care Class of 2013,
Mr. Kris Damko



To the Graduating Class of 2013:

Each graduating class from Clark has a personality. Your class is kind. That is the first word that comes to my mind when describing the class of 2013. I will miss you. I will miss your faces. I will miss your spirits. I will miss the various characters in your class. Each of you is destined for good things because you already understand that kindness is the key to everything.

When I think of each individual who walked through my classroom door sophomore year I smile. I think first of David Khachatrian who got my jokes, and actually laughed at them (thank you). You are the perfect combination of intelligence and charisma. After watching you present your senior project over the weekend, I find you even more incredible, my fellow Virgoan. I think of Jenna El-Fakih, Christina Davidian and Hasmik Djoulakian who impressed me time and time again with each writing assignment. I remember the face of your class, Ms. Madeline Sy, always striving and perfecting; you were never my student, but I felt like I knew you just from our year together in Mock Trial.

In a sea of kind individuals I think of Christina Dervishian and Christine Danaian; I adore you both. Thank you for being my TAs senior year. Please keep in touch. In your class I think of the funny Aren Sarkisian; I will never forget your mob version of Julius Caesar. I will always keep Tania Kartolova’s poem video of Walt Whitman’s “Miracles.” Sometimes I play it just to be happy for a moment. Never forget your passion for cooking, Tania.

Sarah Magee, thank you for your book recommendations; you always know what interests me. In your class of kind individuals I think of Daniel Allard. I will miss our discussions about music. Van Halen rules…From Peter Lee to Nick Lee to Evan Keum to Arian Mostofi, I want to wish you the best of luck. I admire you all immensely. You are special young men. And, Yana and Erit, you are one of a kind; stay true to yourselves. If I have missed your names I apologize.

There are so many special students among you. The kindest of all in your class include Matt Widholm, Reuel Verde, Karen Wong, Diana Alvarado, Michelle Nazaryan, Sona Avetisyan and Stella Ayvazyan. When we speak, I feel your kind hearts.

For four years Mr. Dall has told you how lucky you are to be a student at Clark, and you are lucky. Just as lucky as you have been, I have been lucky to have had YOU in class. We, as a staff, are lucky to have been blessed by your kindness throughout your years at Clark. Throw up those hats at graduation and step into the world my friends…we will miss you. As you move on it will be scary, but you will be just fine because at Clark you have learned above all: be kind.

With Love and Admiration,
Mrs. Diana McGrath, English



To My Class of 2013 Minions,

It seems like just yesterday when you walked into my classroom for the first time as sophomores. You endured the History of Photography, the camera vocab test, and all the projects, including the photo essays. Then many of you chose to continue on into Photo 3-4, creating portfolios, completing teaching workshops, and accompanying me to photo events like the Dancing With Diamonds ball and the LA Auto Show.

As seniors, you came to me for help with your senior projects, college applications, job applications or you just needed someone to talk to. I am going to miss all of my minions and I wish you the best in all you do.

– Miss B



Dear Class of 2013,

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to have been part of your experience here at Clark. I certainly hold some fond memories of these last four years and I know some of you do as well. I would like to take one last opportunity to give you three pieces of advice.

I will leave it to Mr. Dall to tell you how many times to measure and how many times to cut. My first piece of advice, though, is that you would do well to take Mr. Dall’s words to heart. We have heard them often enough that our instinct is to tune them out, but they are wise words from a wise man.

My next piece of advice comes from the pages of a popular novel. Novels may not contain much factual material, but they can often point out some truth to us. Many of us are familiar with the Harry Potter movies and most of you know that those movies began their lives as novels. In one of these stories, the wise Professor Dumbledore tells his devoted student Harry, “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” You are all about to begin exploring your capabilities and pursuing your goals and your dreams. Please do whatever is in your power to make good choices. If you are unsure, find someone you trust (preferably someone with more life experience than you have) and take the time to ask for their advice. Your lives will be built and your dreams pursued one decision at a time.

That brings me to my last piece of advice. Of course, you will make wrong decisions. Which of us hasn’t? Have the courage to accept the consequences of those decisions and develop the experience you need to learn from them. Mistakes are potentially great teachers, but their effectiveness depends on the willingness of the student to learn.

Congratulations to you all. Make the most of the time you have. If you think your years at Clark were challenging (fun, too), wait’ll you see what comes next! We will miss you.

– Fred Blattner




Dear Seniors,
As I sat listening to Matt, one of nine Clark alumni speaking to some of you during the Senior Horizons program this past month, I was struck by his notion that school and book learning weren’t so important to him as a passion for the business world and good people skills. This particular graduate I remember as a good student who usually turned in his homework, but who didn’t necessarily give his best effort to what he was producing for my class. And now, as the head of his own company (and an employer of eight), this Clark alum has found purpose in his life, and has done so with an approach that may seem antithetical to what the “system” and “society” have stressed.

While I was a bit taken aback by Matt’s approach to success and happiness (as I am part of that very educational system that Matt did not fully embrace at Clark or in college), I was also struck by the truth in what Matt said. So with Matt as my inspiration, I want to suggest something that is rather heretical for a teacher to say: college choices, grades, test scores and class rank don’t matter that much. Don’t get me wrong; they matter, but not to the degree that some of you have stressed over for the past four years. And they matter far less than other qualities and indicators that I will get to later.

I know that some of you perhaps should have cared a bit more about grades and tests over the years (and this letter may have less relevance for you), but many of you have also cared far too much and have not been able to separate a quest for personal perfection from a quest for discovering your life’s meaning. You may certainly feel accomplished for high grades, high AP scores, and a Top  20 class rank — and you should — but these achievements are just tangible marks on paper of your hard work and accomplishments in school; they do not make you who you are, do not define who you will be, or predict what mark you will leave on the world.

So while I don’t want you high achievers to necessarily slack off as you head off to college, I do ask that you spend some time looking inside yourself  to find what gives you real happiness and meaning. And if that is continuing to achieve perfect test scores and garner more academic accolades, then so be it.

But I will tell you this: I have never chosen a doctor based upon his diploma and awards on the wall, nor have I ascribed more respect to those I have worked for based upon their high school class rank, the numbers of AP classes they took, or the college they attended. There are other qualities I look for in these people: how well they listen to me and to others, what kinds of questions they ask, how they treat others around them, and how they solve problems. An AP score of 5 or a ticket to Harvard may indicate that a person possesses these qualities, but not necessarily.

And, now, before I close,  a quick trip down memory lane from sophomore Humanities for those in the class that Mrs. Davis and I taught: some great guest speakers (remember Wilma Jakobsen talking about apartheid in South Africa, or Lorna Touryan Miller talking about her work in recording the stories of Armenian genocide survivors, or Herbert Gallagher talking about the missions he flew over Italy during World War II?); a memorable trip to the Getty in January; the one day we were both gone from class and Mr. Kimber lectured so ably on the causes of World War I; you all reading your wonderful children’s books to elementary school kids. You were a great group of sophomores, and now you are a wonderful Class of 2013. Congratulations to all of you!
– Mr. Davis