CALIPATRIA — Students of Calipatria High School Class of 2017 were pumped and proud as they made their final walk across the stage Thursday night with their friends and families cheering them on.
It was a moment many had been waiting for and working towards for four years. There were tears, cheers, and hugs as graduating seniors made their way across the stage set up on the football field at the high school.
“I’m happy to be taking the next step in life and I’m happy to seek so much more for myself than what I have now,” said Gloria Mendoza, talking about how bittersweet the moment was. “But at the same time, it’s leaving behind everything I’ve known the past four years of my life.”
Graduate Yussue Trejo said he is the first of his family to graduate from high school, an achievement that fills him with pride. “I feel like I did something good to make my family proud,” said Trejo. “It feels pretty amazing.”
“I know it wasn’t an easy journey for some of us, but we made it,” said Valedictorian Elena Beltran as she addressed her classmates.
Principal Joe Derma, who has been with this graduating class since he was principal of the middle school, said he couldn’t be more proud to see them graduate. Derma made sure to hug everyone as they walked off the stage.
“You, as a class, have tremendous vision, and as individuals, incredible possibility,” said Derma.
Placed under the graduates’ seats were bags of rocks taken from their class trip to Catalina Island. Derma said he wanted the students to be rocks, and each letter of the word “ROCK” represented something he wanted them to remember: to be resilient, optimistic, content, and to seek knowledge.
The CHS faculty also bestowed the Helen Cox award, given to the student who best represents character and scholarship. This year’s recipient was Danielle Monica Flores.
A slideshow of pictures of the seniors taken throughout the year was shown, followed by fireworks to mark the beginning of the next chapter for the Calipatria Class of 2017.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to split up, but that’s life,” said student Robert Cervantes. “One chapter of our life ends and another one opens.”
“Wherever we may go, or whatever we may become, may we always be friends when we meet again,” said Salutatorian Sarai Plata Ramos in her speech to her classmates.