Looking Forward: WHS graduates encouraged to embrace life's challenges

Graduating students were encouraged to not be afraid of inevitable challenges and to grow as individuals as they take on the next journey past high school.
Photo by Rosemary Hemenway/Winters Express The Winters High School Class of 2019 looks on as Principal Nicole Reyherme gives her address at the commencement ceremony on May 30.

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Some of the themes delivered to the Class of 2019 at the Winters High School 123rd Annual Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 30 encouraged them to continue learning and to grow from inevitable failures as they embark on the next journey past high school graduation. WHS Principal Nicole Reyherme acknowledged the students’ hard work in achieving the goal of graduating from WHS and encouraged them to enjoy their summer and recharge before their next chapter begins. “Tonight we look forward to the future. It is filled with endless possibilities, but your success is not guaranteed simply by the diploma you will receive,” Reyherme said. “This changing world requires that you, too, be willing to change. You will have unparalleled opportunities, as well as difficult challenges—but your time here has prepared you for this adventure.” She took a moment to also give a nod to the graduates’ families and Winters staff who took time and made efforts to help challenge and support them through high school. She reminded the students to remember these support systems because they will be the ones who continue to support and cheer them on. In closing her final commencement speech in her role as WHS Principal, Reyherme shared she hoped in their years ahead the graduates would continue to be empathetic, compassionate, objective, willing to take risks, lead by example, work hard and play straight. Senior Class President Luis Rosales took a moment to thank the WHS staff and faculty for making high school fun, exciting, educational and challenging. Aside of his humorous stabs about life as a high school student, he admitted WHS helped the students to find another family to have fun and experience life with. He reminded his classmates that graduation was not the end, and only the beginning of a larger journey in life. “Wherever your future takes you, let it take you somewhere. Our graduation should serve as such a launching point—projecting us to the stars,” Rosales said. “You may land a successful career; continue your education at college or you might fail and disappoint your parents. But you know how to get back up and keep trying.” This year’s American Field Service exchange students took to the podium to say farewell to their host families, friends and the Winters community before they head back to their home countries. Ryosuke Fujimori, a student from Japan, said before he came to Winters he was excited because he imagined American high school would be similar to what he had seen in “High School Musical” movies. He said although he was surprised that it wasn’t he made many memories here, and he reflected on how fellow students took care of him and one girl told him that if he needed help, help would always be there. He said he can tell how much he loves Winters by how hard it is to leave. “I feel so lucky that I came to this town,” Fujimori said. Yusuf ElSayd, a student from Egypt, gave a special shout out to Bobbie Greenwood and Kim Olivas for helping to bring him to Winters. He also gave thanks to all of the friends he made at WHS and to his family for helping to make his stay memorable, and that he will miss everyone and everything here. Sivert Svarstad, a student from Norway, said this year in Winters has not only been one of the biggest challenges, it has also been one of the biggest experiences he has had so far. He said he was lucky to be placed in Winters where everyone was kind and willing to help him navigate his way around. He gave a special shout out to his coaches Dan Ward and Jeff Ingles for helping to guide him through his efforts in WHS sports where he played American football and baseball for the first time. “Thank you for believing in me even though I had no idea what I was doing when I showed up to my first practices,” Svarstad said. Winters JUSD Trustee Rudolph Muldong gave a congratulatory address on behalf of the Winters JUSD School Board. He encouraged students to learn to find balance in their time, in their obligations, their energies and their checkbook. “Without that balance you can’t stay vertical. Without that balance, you can’t make the next step,” said Muldong. WHS teacher Jessica Williams addressed the students with correctly cited words of wisdom. She advised them to “unlearn what you have learned,” (Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas Films, 21 May 1980) in high school. From the routines and scripts they have been following since their time in elementary school, much of what was expected of them they knew ahead of time. She advised them the next steps after walking away from Winters High School is more unpredictable and uncertain. “The scripts and routines that you have learned to follow in these past 13 years will no longer be the same. You must unlearn the patterns of a K-12 school experience and learn what it means to be an independent adult,” said Williams. Other notes of wisdom Williams gave encouraged graduates to take the opportunity to reinvent themselves and find who they really are and “become, unapologetically you.” She informed them to choose wisely because their choices would ultimately define them. Williams asked them to embrace failure and not be ashamed by it. “Fail often because it is through failure that you will define success,” said Williams. “Of all the lessons that we teach you in public education this is probably the one we don’t teach very well, but it’s so important because you will fail over and over and over. It’s up to you to learn from each of those failures to become stronger, and wiser and eventually successful.” As one of their senior class advisers she told them she was proud of all of them because graduating from high school is an accomplishment and to let this be the first in a long line of many. “Class of 2019, you’ve got this,” said Williams. In her valedictory address, Class of 2019 Valedictorian Esther Myers reflected on the fact that as babies they were all bad at walking, but they never gave up despite the many times they fell down and that night they were walking, many of them in heels. She said their paths are not linear and they shouldn’t compare themselves to others because success at first try is a myth, that each of the things they have learned are skills in the making and there will always be something new to learn. “It is scary to think of the unknown and what we inevitably are not so good at. Let this uncharted space inspire you. It holds the best of what we think is impossible,” Myers said. WHS teacher Andrea Hurst announced the 2019 recipients of the Doug Baldridge Memorial Scholarship were Aaron Mendoza and Makynsie Tuttle. Baldridge, Hurst’s cousin, died from an injury received at a football game. She said like Baldridge, the students awarded the honor are more than great athletes, they’re also leaders on campus and nice to everyone. Hurst also had the honor of awarding the first Autos for Autism scholarship. She said the recipient is a student who works hard and had a determination to succeed. Hurst said this year’s recipient demonstrated all of the required qualities, is kind to everyone, generous with her time and an all around amazing person. The first official Autos for Autism scholarship was awarded to Marin Spalding. On behalf of Winters Area Education Association, WHS teacher Polita Gonzales awarded the Hugh Randolph Memorial Scholarship to Nataly Hernandez and Katherine Rotenkolber. The scholarship is maintained by WAEA and given in memory of Randolph who worked as a government and history teacher. Upon the presentation of diplomas, Superintendent Todd Cutler certified the Class of 2019 as official graduates. Despite high winds rushing in from an incoming storm, graduates tossed their caps in celebration and gathered with family, friends and WHS staff on Dr. Sellers Field.]]>

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