Alan Pinkett Gives Words of Advice to Park View Class of 2012

Football great Alan Pinkett returned to his alma mater, Park View High School, for the Patriots’ graduation ceremony on Monday, June 11th, at George Mason University’s Patriot Center.

Pinkett, who starred for the Patriots and Notre Dame before going on to an NFL career with the Oilers and Saints, gave the graduates a variation on the famous “Everything I needed to know, I learned in kindergarten theme.

“Everything you need to know to survive in this world, you already learned right here.”

Pinkett came to Park View in 1978 when it was a shiny, new school and the envy of Loudoun County. The years have not dimmed the school’s luster, he added.

“This place has always remained special because there have always been teachers who take a genuine interest in how the students were doing. For you parents, I want you to rest assured that it is a quality education that these students received because I still see some of the teachers that were at the school when I was there 30 years ago. They care an awful lot; you know they’re not staying there for the money. It must be something they feel; that they have the ability to nurture these students and send them out in the world.”

Pinkett said the fact that all he needed to know to succeed was taught to him after his first two years in the NFL. (“That’s how you know that I’m old, because the team I played for doesn’t exist anymore.”)

“Sometimes when you get drafted and you get to that highest level, you can sort of fall into that trap where you get comfortable and you think you’ve made it. I did sort of fall into that trap.”

Pinkett said he snapped out of that attitude when Houston drafted a running back in the first round.

“At that moment, I tried to think about ‘What is it that I did in high school to be a success?’ When I reverted back to those things that I did — it’s not just the workout thing — it’s a mindset…What did you do to have success? That’s the only thing you have to know as you go out here into the real world…That’s what I did. That’s when I feel like I became a pro.”

Pinkett said the world the graduates are entering isn’t as bad as some would lead them to believe.

“You are a generation of innovators, visionaries and entrepreneurs. Because we have full confidence in your skills and abilities, we are looking to you to find solutions for some of the most challenging economic and social problems the world has experienced.”

Now a broadcaster, Pinkett had a warning about the media “Watch the news, but don’t internalize it.”

Bad news sells, he added, so you’re going to get a steady diet of it.

“There are a lot of wonderful things going on that they don’t report. Don’t feel like the sky is falling.”

The media, Pinkett said, also gets some things wrong when it reports on the poor state of the economy.

“There is so much opportunity out there for you…Sometimes you’ve just got to put those blinders on and you can’t listen to the fray or believe the hype. You’re Park View High School graduates, you make things happen. Believe me, there is plenty of opportunity out there. You just have to be positive about the situation….

“Relish the opportunity when somebody says you can’t do something. That should give you the drive to prove them wrong. You know what; you don’t have to be boastful when you succeed. You don’t have to brag. Let your actions speak for themselves…

“You can’t be afraid to fail. You’re going to fail at some things. I guess one way to put it is ‘If you fail a test, do you fail the class?’ No…

“Failure is part of the process of getting it right. You can’t be discouraged. You can always choose how you view failure; in a positive or negative way. You can’t go through life being so cautious you never take a risk. Take a risk now and again.”

Park View Principal Dr. Ginger Minshew spoke to the graduates about the meaning of success.

“If you don’t wait for it, success will happen. I have been successful in my life, but it did not come without a great deal of hard work, hard decisions and keeping my eyes on my goals. With success comes joy, and one reason I believe I have been successful is that I have, for the past 31 years, been able to come to a job that I love and work with colleagues, parents and, most of all, students for whom I want to experience success.

“Success is not an accident, but it is something that you love to do and is meaningful for you. Find your success, but know that you will have to work hard for it.”

For luck, Minshew had a penny taped to every graduate’s seat.

“Keep that penny with you, just as a reminder that I believe in you, and your successes will not be an accident.”

Valedictorian Stephanie Cox said she had recently been given a letter that she had written to herself in the eighth grade.

“In this letter were my thoughts on what my life would be right now, as I was graduating high school. Through everything that has happened and how much we all changed, I was surprised to see how many of my predictions came true. One main thing I wrote down — more like hoped for — was that I would be standing up here giving this speech.”

It might be said that was an ambitious goal and ambition was a focus of Cox’s speech.

“For me, inspiration and ambition have always come hand-in-hand. After we have our idea, it is our ambition, our drive that helps us succeed. Ambition, however, cannot be taken from others, it is something that only occurs from within. I encourage you all to take the inspiration that hopefully Park View has given and any other inspiration you will get in the future and fully run with it. The first time ’round things may not work out, as they barely ever do, but as long as you have that ambition, the will to succeed, and continue to pursue what you’re doing, things will eventually look up.”

Jenifer Carter was the salutatorian for the Class of 2012.

Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services Dr. Mary Kealy brought greetings on behalf of Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III. “May today be the beginning of a life that holds great happiness, new opportunities and deep personal fulfillment for all of you.”

Park View had 293 graduates who earned a total of $1,077,650 in scholarships.

School Board member Brenda Sheridan attended Park View’s graduation ceremony. As is tradition, the other principals from the Park View cluster David Stewart (Guilford Elementary), Andrew Davis (Rolling Ridge Elementary), Teri Finn (Sterling Elementary), Nereida Gonzalez-Sales (Sterling Middle School) and Colleen O’Neill (Sully Elementary) also attended. Forest Grove Principal Nancy Torregrossa was attending her retirement party at Forest Grove.

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