Lindsay High School graduation 2019

Paige Layton walks to her seat after giving her valedictorian speech during the Lindsay High School graduation on Friday, June 7, 2019. 247 seniors graduated in the Class of 2019.

“Once a cardinal, always a cardinal” 

A large crowd watched from the stands with pride as seniors in red and white caps and gowns walked with excitement and trepidation into the Lindsay High School stadium after their professors and staff in traditional robes.

Emmanuel Sanchez, Dean of Culture, welcomed 247 LHS seniors and their families, friends, educators, and loved ones and thanked them for helping the young men and women achieve their goals with their support, love, and encouragement. 

“Remember, we have no idea what the future holds and that is okay,” he said. “Don’t think about what you want to do, think about why you want to do it. When you know why, it has more impact and gives you purpose.”

Principal George Tapanes welcomed LUSD board members, Superintendent Tom Rooney, administrators, teachers and staff, thanking them for guiding the graduates through high school.

Tapanes then turned to the graduates and took a selfie, which brought a huge laugh from the crowd. He turned around and said “Stand up and step to your left, high five your partner, step to your right, and high five your partner, then sit down.” 

Everyone really enjoyed the chance to release a bit of pent up tension and relax. 

Tapanes said humorously he was concerned about his speech until he realized no one came to hear him — they came to hear and see their students receive their diplomas.

He spoke about the graduates setting examples of service and caring, developing and nurturing traditions that will serve the LHS learning community, and he spoke of the graduating class’ impressive standards of academic excellence and citizenship that has helped the LUSD learning community grow. He read an impressive list of California universities and colleges, as well as the University of Maine and branches of armed services, that graduates would attend.

“Your character is showing,” said Tapanes. “Integrity means doing the right thing regardless of who sees it. The synonyms for integrity are decency, honesty, character, morality, righteousness and virtue. Class of 2019, My hope, as you move forward from here, is you will all be men and women of integrity.” 

Joanna Martinez gave a “Spirit of 2019” speech in Spanish, and Fatima Torres spoke in English.

Torres spoke about making a mark in high school and the world after graduation. Education does not stop with graduation, she said, and her advice was to “never follow anyone else’s path, but stay true to yourself.” 

She challenged her 247 classmates to own potential and goals, and said, “Imagine the effect that would have on the world.” She quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, who defined success with the following words: 

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!” 

Among the graduates were 35 California Scholarship Federation Seal Bearers and 14 students who achieved a grade point average of 4.0 or higher, who were recognized by Administrator of Instruction Vikki Leoni.

Distinguished Scholars Marlen Meza and Chunting Zheng spoke about their experiences in life as immigrants to the United States and how graduating from Lindsay High School has been so important in their lives. 

Meza spoke in Spanish, and said, “Porque una vez Cardinal, siempre Cardinal,” and Zheng, who settled with her family over three years ago in Lindsay, faced language and cultural barriers, and other difficulties. She learned and changed because she set her mind to it. 

Zheng said, “Life is like a box of chocolates.You never know what you’re going to get. But don’t be afraid to go out there and get it!” 

Valedictorian Paige Layton spoke about what courage means to her and what it takes to have courage. She said it’s a “willingness to take a risk despite the chance of fear or failure,” and said there have been many moments of courage with the class of 2019. She spoke of all the embodiments of courage and finally putting on caps and gowns for graduation.

Layton spoke about graduates being the first generation to graduate high school in their families and all the great memories shared together in high school.

“It takes courage to grow up and find your passion,” she said, “but we are all courageous enough to get there.” 

Joseph Traeger gave the honorary address and said he was eternally grateful to have worked with the graduating class as an advisor. He reminded graduates that they might be someone’s hero if they are the first to graduate in their family, and to always be aware of that. Then he asked parents to let their children have their own rein, and make mistakes, but also make their own decisions. To let them go to school where they want to go, and do what they think is best. 

“Be there to guide, but let them make the decisions that are best for them. and give room to grow,” he said.

Traeger also suggested that the graduates not let life fly by too fast, and to savor every minute. He also challenged them to dream big and quoted Martin Luther King: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” 

Before Tapanes presented diplomas to the graduates Class of 2019, he said, “It’s time to roll!”

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