Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo
California Department of Education News Release (with no CDE logo)
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #17-41
May 25, 2017
Contact: Robert Oakes
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Torlakson Speaks at Daly City High School That He Graduated From 50 Years Ago

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Thursday (May 25, 2017) returned to his roots at Westmoor High School, where he graduated 50 years ago, and addressed the Class of 2017.

“With your creativity and passion and determination, you will have many opportunities to change the world,” he said. “Think about how you can advance yourself successfully and, at the same time, find ways to improve your neighborhood, your community, your state, and the world.”

Torlakson, who leads the nation’s largest kindergarten through grade twelve public education system, told students and their families that they can achieve great things and follow their dreams.

Torlakson said that in the year he graduated—1967—the nation faced uncertain times, unrest, and political division. Today, many students worry about the same things.

“Yet our nation emerged from the 1960s and began an era of unprecedented progress. Together, we created a more diverse society, enacted groundbreaking legislation for civil rights, for women, for minorities,” Torlakson said. “Today, in California, our diversity is our strength.”

Torlakson also encouraged students to become teachers and return to their own communities to inspire students. In summer 2016, when he served briefly as Acting Governor, Torlakson issued a “Change Lives—Be a Teacher” proclamation, and he continues to promote the profession as California faces a looming teacher shortage.

Torlakson graduated from Westmoor in the Jefferson Union High School District and went on to a public service career in California that included serving in the U.S. Merchant Marine; teaching high school science and coaching cross country; and serving on the Antioch City Council, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, and as a state legislator from the San Francisco East Bay. He is serving his second term as State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“My high school teachers and my professors in college opened my eyes and mind to so many wonderful learning opportunities,” Torlakson said. “I was able to become an educator in California—the team of which I am most proud.”

Torlakson also honored Bob Lualhati, a teacher and coach who inspired him and countless others when he was a student. Lualhati, who was elected to the San Mateo County Sports Hall of Fame, won numerous championships at Skyline Community College and trained two athletes who participated in the Olympics.

“He taught me to believe in myself, set high goals, and work hard,” Torlakson said.

# # # #

Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, November 26, 2018
Recently Posted in News Releases