Crowds fill Shimamoto-Simpson Stadium to celebrate Imperial High School graduation

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Bryanne Sanchez gets escorted down the aisle by parents Richard and Margo Sanchez.

IMPERIAL – Marking the end of their high school journey, the seniors of Imperial gathered Friday at Shimamoto- Simpson Stadium. With raised emotions, the class of 2017 crossed the stage to receive their diplomas, signifying the start of the next chapter of their lives.

Car horns from canal bank spectators added to the stadium excitement, as parents and loved ones escorted the 271 senior students onto the field.

“Throughout life, you will go through a lot of challenges, but it is important for all of you graduates to remember, that you are Tigers and you will be able to overcome the challenges life throws at you,” said Principal Joe Apodaca.

Following the opening remarks by Apodaca, Imperial’s foreign exchange students took to the stage in a ceremony to exchange flags from their home countries with a classmate, symbolizing the bonds beyond borders made throughout the year.  Anthony Arnoult, Rita Barros, Aurora Baratto, and Tania Greve were the senior foreign exchange students graduating.

The stadium grew quiet as seniors joined their fellow choir members on stage for one last performance, singing, “I’ll always Remember You.”  Choir teacher George Scott directed his seniors for the final time.

As the performance ended, Salutatorian Leonardo Aranza took to the podium and spoke to his fellow classmates.

“It has been a long journey and I’m glad to have shared it with all of you,” says Aranza, “I also want to wish everyone the best of luck on their new journeys.”

Valedictorian Tae Hyung Kim, followed Aranza, with the graduates and audience welcoming her with heartwarming applause. Hyung thanked her family for making all of her accomplished possible, ending with wishing her class luck also as she left the podium for her seat.

Principal Apodaca culminated the evening’s excitement by presenting the Class of 2017 with their diplomas.

As the last students crossed the stage to receive their diplomas, the stadium enjoyed the spectacular firework show and reflected on the memories made and the futures ones yet to be enjoyed by the graduating Imperial class of 2017.