Jeff Brown, Harmony Magnet Academy principal, proudly welcomed parents, students and honored guests to the school’s graduation ceremony during his welcome speech, saying, “We are here to celebrate an end to one thing and the beginning of another,” on Friday, May 31, at the Porterville Memorial Auditorium.
He acknowledged PUS administrators and the governing board, represented by Tom Velasquez, as well as Superintendent Nate Nelson. The advisory boards, business partners, Cindy Brown and her pathway staff, and HMA faculty and staff. “Your commitment to excellence is evident, and we are grateful for your dedication.
“The graduates are well prepared moving forward into life and it challenges,” continued Brown, explaining that HMA students were prepared well to speak with confidence as leaders, present ideas and perform when it mattered. He told graduates not to wavier from their hopes and visions, dream big and embrace opportunities even when its tough. “You can achieve anything if you are willing to sacrifice and give your best effort day after day. But more importantly, believe you can. If you pursue your dream and are inspired to do so…there is nothing beyond you. We never lose: we win or learn……fight on!”
Matt Brown, Associated Student Body President, presided as master of ceremonies and introduced his father and principal, Jeff Brown, after which the National Anthem was performed by the Harmony orchestra and senior choir members.
Matt quoted T.E. Lawrence at the beginning of his speech: “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find that it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
He spoke about being meticulous and keeping track of everything early in high school because it helped him with his thoughts and aspirations, and also music he liked.
Later he realized “the process” was more important than the accomplishment, and “the relationships fostered, the laughs shared, and the memories built are what remains in our minds for eternity, and it was more important to focus on people, than keep busy and just doing.”
At the end of his speech he quoted St. Francis of Assisi, and said, “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Six valedictorians Ryan Cometa, Ingrid Cross, Paloma Gomez, Jeeven Larson, Christian Pimentel, and Felicty Wynn spoke about what high school meant to them and thanked their fellow seniors, families, and teachers during their speeches.
Cometa said, “You taught us about the ‘Glorious Revolution,’ and we are the next ‘glorious revolution,’ and our wonderful students are going to change the world.”
“I am very honored to be standing, by some miracle, before you today,” said Cross, who had been very ill in a wheelchair and not able to walk before graduation. She said, “I am alive and kicking. Okay, maybe not kicking, but alive.”
She also thanked her parents for sacrificing everything to give her everything. “For you, I wear my Filipina skin with pride. Ma, Pa, mahal na mahal kita (I love you). As a first-generation Filipino woman, I am ready to take on life’s trials and tribulations. And I can confidently say that the Class of 2019 is ready to do the same.”
“Success is dependent not only on one person’s work, but also the convergence of remarkable people and circumstances,” said Larson. He thanked his family, grandparents, aunts and uncles “who’ve done for me what words cannot express. They set me on the right path, and gave me the means to do well. Their gifts of wisdom, discipline, generosity and encouragement lead me to consider it my duty to continue to do well to honor their efforts.”
“You do not have to have super powers to be superheroes,” said Wynn. “All you need is compassion and courage to be a super hero. It’s been a privilege to be here these past four years with these super heroes.”
Ethan Nguyen, 2019 graduate and class president for the past four years, spoke about the achievements of HMA and how it was recognized by the United States Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School, how the symphony orchestra traveled to Carnegie Hall in New York, and Honolulu, Hawaii, and said the list of accolades was endless.
“I could not have asked for a better group of people to be my classmates and to be my friends,” he said, and thanked teachers, administrators, parents and families for their contributions as well. “Without you, none of this would be possible. I can only hope that we have, and will continue to make you proud.”
He exhorted the Class of 2019 to have “passion, courage of conviction, and a strong sense of self” when they step into the world, and to “Be brave. Be bold. And shine bright. So, Class of 2019, fiat lux and Go Knights! Congratulations.”
The students shook hands with Principal Brown, received their diplomas from Tom Velasquez, and shook hands with Dr. Nelson and had their picture taken.
After the diplomas were dispersed, HMA orchestra played as the students sang the alma mater, after which they quickly filed out to the reception area and patio outside of the auditorium to meet family, friends and go begin their graduation festivities.