IMPERIAL – Draped in honors, cords, and leis, the graduating class of Imperial High School walked their final time as Tigers, escorted by their parents, across the football field to their allotted seating.
As parents hugged, for the last time, their high school graduate, the parent and child parted ways, each to their separate destinations.
Asked whether graduation was a beginning or an ending, Veronica Fernandez, who hopes to be accepted into the IVC nursing program said, “This is a beginning, beginning of the real life. I’m so nervous.”
Miguel Lopez said, “This is the beginning of reality and the ending of high school. My plan now is to hang out with friends.”
Clayton Hermes, wearing a lei filled with lucky $2 bills, said, “This is an ending of a crazy experience, this is an end of all these people.” Motioning his arm in a grand jesture including his classmates, continued, “All you people, a shout out to all you people.” Hermes intends to “chill for a while then go to San Diego State.
As the long line of over two hundred graduates paraded in front of the overflowing football stands, the Pride of Imperial, the Imperial High School Band, under the direction of Brook Kofford, played the Processional Pomp and Circumstance.
Twenty-four seats within the band remained empty, representing the missing seniors. Following Tiger tradition, during the ceremony the seniors joined their classmates and played one last song together. Tradition says the seniors get to choose their favorite song. This year they chose ‘Southern Hymn’ by Samuel R. Hazo.
Principal Roger Ruvalcaba extolled the accolades of the graduating class, besides earning CIF championships, he said, “Imperial High School was the only school in the valley last year to be named a Distinguished School. That is a direct relationship to this class of graduating seniors and their high standards.”
Karla Quezada and Matthew Ortega were the recipients of the American Legion Award given out by Korean War Legionnaires Harley Smith and Guadalupe Sabala, veteran of World War II.
Salutatorian Carlos Gomez enlightened his audience with his knowledge of the word ‘salutatorian’ and then gave the definition from the Urban Dictionary which Gomez said, to the laughter of the graduates, “Salutatorian is one who just missed valedictorian by a few fractions of gpa points, 2nd place and 1st loser.”
Gomez went on to say how the class was more than just students, but friends that took some hard hits but drew closer together because of them. He mentioned how special the night was because, “For us, this is one last time, one last gathering.”
Valedictorian Diana Aguirre spoke on the night being “surreal”. She said, “Four years ago we were at this same football field graduating from 8th grade. Everyone told us how fast high school would go and we didn’t believe them.“
Aguirre continued, “We love you Imperial High School, but now we have to say goodbye. For now, we made it; but the rest is just a beginning.”
After the seniors received their diplomas, the football field floodlights went dark and a spectacular display of fireworks signaled the end of the seniors time at Imperial High School.