“Take pride in how far you’ve come, have faith in how far you can go, but don’t forget the journey,” was the motto of the day for over 440 seniors graduating from Porterville High School Thursday at Jacob Rankin Stadium.
A carpet of orange and green caps and gowns covered half the stadium field as seniors gathered — walking single file or by two under flower arches held by the Porterville High Auxiliary women in summer gowns.
Student Body President Therese Salinas gave the welcoming speech and expressed “the happiness in everyone’s heart today because the hard work and dedication of high school has paid off.”
She continued with the things graduates were likely not to forget, such as “all-nighters, Friday night lights, people flooding the gym for rivalry games, Carl Azuz’s horrible puns, Bill Johnson’s plentiful extra credit, Mr. Freed’s sarcasm, and Mr. Hill’s legendary dance moves.”
Also speaking to their fellow graduates and the extensive crowed about high school and the future was each of the nine valedictorians: Diana Andrade, Valeria Baca, Rosemary Chapman, Samantha Delgado, Hannah Haberkorn, Yessenia Ramos, Adrian Remigio, Jennifer Ruiz Diaz, and Nayelly Torres.
Andrade said not to mourn the ‘last day together’ but to celebrate accomplishments, hard work and perseverance during the seniors’ time in high school. She advised the graduates to instead cherish their lifelong friendships and future friendships as they walked a new path to a new journey.
“In the class of 2019 sit future farmers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, businessmen and women, entrepreneurs, and many who will create a better and brighter future for the world,” said Haberkorn. “.... Move forward with knowledge and strength to take on challenges of college, work, or the military.”
Remigio said, “Remember the lessons of high school for our later lives, but don’t forget to stay true to yourself and always strive to be the best possible person you can be.”
Another valedictorian, Chapman, said, “Remember the experiences that shaped you into the person you are today and remember the people who loved and supported you. Take what you learned and become all you want to be. Dream big, don’t sweat the small stuff, always forgive and never regret. Find something you love and make that your career. Make the most of situations, and time goes by faster than you think.”
Porterville Principal Jose Valdez spoke next and first acknowledged Porterville Unified School District Board of Trustees, district administrators and PHS faculty and staff. Valdez congratulated the new graduates then thanked parents, family, friends, teachers, and counselors for supporting the graduates.
“This class is filled with success stories,” said Valdez.
Of the more than 440 graduates, 34 were California Scholastic Federation Seal bearers and 28 graduates achieved a GPA of 4.0 or higher. Valdez recognized them by having them stand as he called out their names. He spoke about 10 graduates who are entering the the military, and the many students that have been accepted to top ranking colleges. Valdez went on to name other successes and awards within the choir, band and athletics.
He finished by saying, “Best wishes and may your dreams come true.”
Names were called and PUSD board members, Juan Figueroa, Jr., and Felipe Martinez, handed the graduates their diplomas.To finalize the occasion, tassels were turned from right to left to signify graduates’ official emancipation from high school.
A quote from Martin Luther King Jr. in Salinas’ welcoming speech helped to perfectly sum up the night.
“‘If you can’t fly, then run,’” she said. “‘If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means, keep moving.’ Here’s to the class of 2019. May our legacy live on forever. And our futures be bright upon measure.”