Naturally, Spanish Springs High School seniors relished the opportunity to make the day one to remember as graduates launched beach balls into the air during every break of the stage speakers. That caused an uproar of laughter from the crowd before an unsettling “boo” rang out over Lawlor Events Center on Thursday.
Beach ball mania was timed perfectly by the seniors as many of their classmates ran over to the choir and band, who captured all attention with the Friends Theme Song “I’ll Be There For You.” The class acted like a family, giving high fives, loud cheers and the occasional one-finger point in support of one another.
“We built lasting friendships through our classes and school events. We became a family,” Salutatorian Danielle Strozza said. “We built a foundation that will stick with us into our life ahead. Yet there is some sadness in leaving it behind. Never again will we experience the Cougar spirit.”
As a video presentation, developed by graduate Sophia Rose, displayed the Cougar spirit through hilarious videos of various events, the graduates grew ever closer to eclipsing the once-in-a-lifetime feeling of graduating from high school. Valedictorian Robert Wagner said the journey of self fulfillment was one to remember.
“The best accomplishment we can have is the fulfillment of ourselves,” Wagner said, “Living up to the measure of our talents and capabilities and being the best that we can be... With this in mind, this ceremony is anything but an accomplishment.”
Wagner went on to say that the diploma received by graduates “is not going to change your lives in the least. The high school experience already has.” He said the evolution of he and his classmates over the four years at Spanish Springs has set them up for plenty of possibilities in the future.
“It’s not so much where you are or where you have been. It’s the journey,” Wagner said. “Too many people focus on the end or go from point to point to point, and too many folks are the space in between.
“It is my wish that we focus on the current situation laid out in front of us and how we can excel with what we have. Let our accomplishment be our rise and the way we have lived.”
Keynote Speaker Jamie Bowers, an English teacher at Spanish Springs High, began her speech with a poem detailing the ins and outs of the “Class of Oh-13.” Bowers kept the light-hearted spirit and energy, spouting rhyming lines to the class she once taught.
“They proved they could do it. They didn’t lose their steam,” Bowers said. “Because nothing could interfere with the Class of Oh-13.”
Bowers was met with a loud applause as she wrapped up her poetic remarks. She left some advice for her former students, some of it aimed at the generation they have grown up in.
“Choose to remember all good that came from high school and throw away the bad,” Bowers said. “Move forward with purpose, invest only in that which makes you stronger. And try to tweet less and live more.”
As a few final beach balls were bounced through the air before being snared by staff members, Principal Tasha Fuson jokingly told her graduation she “was” proud of them before they grew rambunctious. She too couldn’t help but throw one final “we still love you” out to the seniors.
Assistant Principal Richard “Jay” Salter read back the many feats achieved by the Class of 2013 ranging from sports and clubs to AP tests and scholarship money earned. He said the class instantly reminds him of the Mahatma Gandhi quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
“To be the change you want to see you have to be dedicated to seizing new challenges and new opportunities in life,” Salter said. “I can see it in the smiles you wear every day in the halls. When recounting the memories of this class, I can say they did everything not for themselves, but for everyone around them.
“You have created a world in which you want to live. When you see me in the halls you hear me say I am living the dream. I am confident that you will as well.”