Tehachapi High School closed another chapter on the school year as the Class of 2019 received their diplomas and turned their tassels during a graduation ceremony held Thursday evening at Coy Burnett Stadium.
With the changing of the season for the high school grads comes new beginnings and future memories that await as the seniors enter into adulthood.
"On behalf of all the faculty and staff here at Tehachapi High School, I welcome you to our 89th commencement ceremony," said Principal Scott Heitman. "Tonight, we come together to honor the seniors who have met the state and district requirements for high school graduation."
In a welcome speech given by the ASB president, Mark Morgan Marquez said that every graduating senior has potential and purpose.
"It's our job now to take that and do something meaningful with it," Marquez said. "Be intentional with your words, and bold with your actions. Do what you love, and find passion in your calling."
Introducing the salutatorian, Anika Ardinelle Hubbard-Valentino, was Matt Sterk, THS counselor.
"In working with Anika over the past four years, I've witnessed a level of grit, determination and perseverance that is rarely seen," said Sterk.
The salutatorian plans to attend Cal State Fullerton and pursue a career in nursing.
"In addition to the opportunities that got us here today, THS has given us memories," said Hubbard-Valentino. "We laughed together, cried together, studied together, over-caffeinated together, and we succeeded together... After today, we may all be going our separate ways, but we are true Warriors through and through."
Counselors Emmy Hayes and Matt Sterk presented co-valedictorians Jarod Maxwell Carol and Joshua Steele Siracusa.
"Let us diffuse Warrior pride, and leave a mark on the world that is uniquely ours," said Carol, who plans to attend UCLA and pursue a degree in engineering.
Siracusa plans to attend Columbia University and pursue a double major in neuroscience and music.
"To the Class of 2019, we come to you tonight with some advice: don't let life just happen," Siracusa said. "We hope that everyone here will cherish the time while they have it... What we are saying is that we shouldn't take our time for granted. Be grateful for what we have while we have it."
The Class of 2019 numbered 258 in size, which included Leslie Elaine Balderrama and Jacob Langston, who were honored posthumously. Balderrama was struck by a car and killed at the age of 14 as she walked along Highway 202. Langston was also 14 when he lost his life in a boating accident on June Lake that also claimed the lives of his father and stepbrother-in-law.
Interim Superintendent Paul Kaminski spoke on the subject of integrity in reference to the recent college scandal involving bribery at several colleges that was exposed a few months ago.
"Who would have thought that sweet, Aunt Becky, from 'Full House' would be the alleged subject accused of fraud and money laundering," said Kaminski.
Kaminski went on to say that the true test of one's character is what the person does when no one else is looking.
Said Kaminiski, "My belief is that whatever you put out in the world, you are bound to get back."
Class President Cloie Michelle Sharp made the gift presentation for the Class of 2019: a new marquee for the school.
"These past four years have been challenging, and yet so, so fun, and I am so thankful for getting the opportunity to know each and everyone of you," Sharp said. "When I look into the audience today, I no longer see just my welcoming peers, but I see future nurses, teachers, engineers... it's safe to say that we wouldn't be here without our hard-working teachers, staff members, and, of course, family and friends."
Before the reading of the names, presentations were made to recognize those students who received the Golden State Seal Merit Diploma, California Scholarship Federation Seal Bearer, National Honor Society and the Seal of Biliteracy.
Making the Class of 2019 Top 10 list were:
Jarod Maxwell Carol
Joshua Steele Siracusa
Jessica Michele Riggs
Mikaela Maxine Turner
Hailey Brookelyn Sheen
Courtney Jean Snell
Madelyne Rose Willey
Josephine Grace Trillo
Jameson Jordan Williams
The prelude to the ceremony was the presentation of the colors by the Tehachapi Composite Squadron #46, Civil Air Patrol U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, and the national anthem, sung by the THS Mixed Choir.
Also included in the ceremony was a musical presentation of "Idle Town" by Aubrianna Diane Doe and Joshua Steele Siracusa.