Embarking Badgers

cgeorge@sierrastar.comJune 11, 2013 

Family and friends once again lined the stadium bleachers at Yosemite High School June 7, holding signs, blowing horns and spraying confetti to cheer on the 148 students that make up the graduating class of 2013.

Class speakers Lindsey Rubottom and David Nobles, who recently received the YHS Student of the Year award, said Yosemite High has had 36 graduating classes and has listened to 144 graduation speeches over the years.

Nobles used that revelation to quote a favorite scene from the movie "Dead Poets Society," when English teacher John Keating, played by Robin Williams, talks to his class as they look at old photos of former graduates:

"They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you.

"Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? — Carpe — hear it? — Carpe, carpe diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary."

"My friends, we are not special — we must make our lives extraordinary," Nobles added.

"You are braver than you believe — smarter than you think," Rubottom said. "Let's make our lives extraordinary, not by the things we do, but how we act."

Student speaker Angelica Smith reminded her fellow graduates that in the future, if a door shuts, don't think of it as the only door.

"Grow stronger, grow more courageous, do it differently next time," Smith said. "That's what matters — your attitude. I urge you to live every day to the fullest. When you get knocked down, get back up and keep that positive perspective ... cherish every moment you bring a smile to someone's face. And never, ever forget that life is beautiful."

Margaret Brewer and Christopher Grant — who were valedictorians, California Scholarship Federation life members, and International Baccalaureate full-diploma candidates — asked their peers what kind of people they hope to become, and if they will be happy with their choices looking back on their lives 50 years from now.

"Will you be a cynic, or will be you a builder? When it's tough, will you give up or will you be relentless?"

Principal Ed Vanhoose, who is leaving Yosemite High next year for professional and personal reasons, imparted some words of wisdom to the young graduates: strive to be life-long learners; be courageous and innovative; pursue your passions; and give back to your community — whether that be locally, nationally or globally.

"Choose a profession that you truly enjoy," Vanhoose said, and don't forgot to stop sometimes, take a breath, and reflect on the wonderful journey.

Quoting Henry David Thoreau, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams," he said.

For the commencement's musical performance, Emma Madsen, Jordan Keyser and Stephanie Brown sang "It's Time" while David Nobles played the keyboard.

"It has been a joy this year for me to watch you grow and be a part of this team," said new Superintendent Jim Sargent, addressing the graduates, teachers, staff and administration.

"Some of you may have a plan and some of you may not, but either way, we made it here," said Kayla Davis, senior class president. "This is just the beginning of the rest of our lives."

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