As the class of 2018 walked up Dr. Sellers Field for the last time as students, their parents, friends and family snapped pictures from the crowd. Some people brought signs, and many held tight to fistfuls of balloons. The graduates walked through the sea of happy faces before taking their places at the front of the audience.
Winters High School principal, Nicole Reyherme, delivered the first speech of the evening.
“The look of pride is eminent on the faces of everyone here ready to graduate,” she said before imparting a few words of wisdom.
“Your success is not guaranteed by your diploma,” she advised the class. Reyherme instructed them that in a world of change they must be willing to take risks. She encouraged them to approach the world with empathy and compassion.
Alexis K. Garcia, the senior class president, gave her speech in both Spanish and English. She reminded the crowd that graduation was not a time for sadness, even if it signifies a big change.
The three foreign exchange students, Emma Corria, Martine Alvarez and Soya Kangranwanich, took the opportunity to thank Bobby Greenwood in their speeches.
“She is 100 years old and has more energy than you will ever know,” Corria said, which got a laugh from the audience.
They also spoke about the ways that they came to love Winters, even though it was not quite where they expected to live when they learned they would be studying in California.
Carrie Green stepped up to the podium to speak on behalf of the school board. She said that while she had written pages of advice for the graduates, she realized that giving it all to them at once would be overwhelming. When she rewrote her speech she boiled her advice down to one sentence.
“Have fun. That’s it,” she told the graduates. After the class laughed and cheered Greenwood added that she obviously meant that they keep their adventures on this side of the law.
“Go find yourself,” Greenwood told the graduates. “It will be the most fun you’ve ever had.”
Matt Baker, a teacher and senior class advisor, gave the graduates advice on travelling “the road of life.”
“The path may not be an easy one,” he said, then added, “we look for the positive, not the potholes.”
Thomas Kakutani, the valedictorian and a three sport athlete, advised students to approach life with passion, determination and a strong support system. He encouraged the graduates to find something that they were passionate about, and then have the determination to never give up.
“While you’re figuring all that out, take a moment to have fun and enjoy the moment,” he told his classmates.
After the valedictorian’s speech, it was time to announce the scholarship winners.
Andrea Hurst awarded the Doug Baldridge Memorial Scholarship, and noted that the longevity of this award speaks to the strength of her cousin’s character. The scholarship is awarded to students who are outstanding athletes and leaders. This year Thomas Kakutania and Payton Paschal won the coveted scholarship.
Winters High School teacher Polita Gonzales presented the Hugh Randolf Memorial Scholarship, which is given away in memory of the former government and history teacher. This scholarship was awarded to Keeley Stone.
After all of the speeches and awards had been given, and each graduate had crossed the stage, Superintendent Todd Cutler certified the class of 2018. They filed out of their chairs with smiles on their faces as they danced and sang along to the music they had chosen for the end of the ceremony.
After tossing their caps in the air, family, friends and supporters rushed over to join the new graduates. Dr. Sellers Field was suddenly filled with smiling faces, teary eyes and warm embraces.