by Lorie Lewis Ham, Jessica Ham,
Aimee Lewis & Stephanie Barnett
A Mom’s Perspective
by Lorie Lewis Ham
As I sat to enjoy this year’s Reedley High School graduation, it was different for me this time. I wasn’t watching just as a journalist or a drama mom who knew these kids through RHS shows, I was watching as a mom. My daughter, Jessica, graduated this year and it was quite the different feeling.
As we watched the kids in green caps and gowns walk to their seats to the music of the RHS band, we all strained our necks to see Jess and those of her friends who had become like family. Once they were seated and there was the presentation of colors and national anthem, and introductions of the valedictorians/salutatorians and pirate pilars, the night truly began.
Principal Cisneros thanked parents, board members and staff and welcomed everyone there. The Senior Counselor, Leticia Rubio introduced those with green and white chords, Student Board member Lana Rotan passed the baton off to her replacement, and the RHS Madrigals sang “Thank You” as beautifully as ever (Jessica is in Madrigals and this would be her last performance with them).
Finally we came to the Valedictorian Speech by Caitlin Rankin who used the words of singers like John Mellencamp and Don Henley to talk about the specialness of small towns and family. The theme of family continued throughout her speech as she compared the school to a family that they will all miss and that supported and encouraged each other throughout the four years. Caitlin also spoke of the family member they lost during their freshman year, Anita , who was killed in a car accident. She ended her speech saying that they leave RHS as a family and will remain one. The President of the School Board gave a quick speech as well, then some more awards were handed out.
We watched with pride as the students received their diplomas (or holders actually—the diplomas they got afterward in the gym). We yelled out Jess’s name as she received hers and beamed with pride. Our girl had made it through those four years and was passing a very big milestone in her life.
The night ended with some spectacular fireworks and a lot of smiles and tears. I’ll be back again next year for graduation as the journalist and mentor/friend, but nothing will compare to being there as a mom until, of course, I’m there again as my son, Joseph graduates in two years.
by Jessica Ham
“We’ve crossed off days on our calendar; counted hours, minutes, and seconds. And it’s finally here.” This quote is from Rory Gilmore’s Valedictorian speech on the hit show Gilmore Girls. It was running through my mind a lot this past week. I still can’t believe graduation happened already. The whole week I was counting the hours until its arrival.
The day before, at graduation practice, I could feel the anticipation in all my senior class radiating throughout the stadium. The next day, when I had Madrigals practice for our song at graduation, I realized how close I really was to being a real adult. I felt sick but excited at the same time.
At around 4:00 p.m. that day I started getting ready for graduation with my friends Aimee Lewis (a fellow graduate), Laramie Woolsey, and Brianna Anderson. Laramie helped me with make-up and hair. My mom made my favorite homemade pizza for my pre-graduation dinner. Then at around 6:15 we headed for the stadium.
Aimee and I were patted down, then we entered the girls’ locker room where we put on our cap and gown. The locker room was full of bobby pins, safety pins, hairspray, band-aids, and candy. After putting on the cap and gown we hung out with our fellow graduates outside. Then at around 7:45 we lined up.
As we were waiting, the whole senior class sang the Reedley High School Fight Song. It was a hyper-exciting moment for all of us.
When the music started playing we all screamed for joy. We had to walk in groups of four. When my group got to the top of the little steps, we all did a booty shake and hollered in excitement. I could see my friends and family from where I was sitting. My friends did the wave for me and screamed my nickname, which is Waterbottle (I carry a waterbottle wherever I go).
After Lana Rotan announced who the new Student Board Member was going to be, Madrigals went up and sang the song “Thank You.” It was a very emotional moment for me. Madrigals had been my life for three years and now it had come to final moment with them. I cried while singing but enjoyed every second of it. The speeches were short and enjoyable.
Then diploma time had come. I walked up to get my diploma and my family and friends screamed my name. Then as my best friend Aimee Lewis walked up, I screamed her name at the top of my lungs. Some of the boys in our class threw their hats. Then the fireworks started. The whole class whooped and hollered throughout it.
After the ceremony we had to get in line to get our real diplomas. Saying it was a disaster is an understatement. There was a stampede of us trying to get in the gym to get our diplomas. It took several minutes. Then Aimee and I proceeded to run to our friends and family. There were hugs and pictures. At 10:30 we headed to Sober Grad and I can honestly say that it was the most fun night of my life.
by Stephanie Barnett
Many kids always look forward to certain things. Birthdays, holidays, and graduation. Graduation is the day many kids wait four years for! At the beginning of senior year I thought, “Wow, I have an entire year, this is not going to be fast enough, but in fact it went too fast!” After Christmas break, time just FLEW by.
Then soon enough it was the senior barbecue, and I was picking up my yearbook and cap and gown. I had an amazing year, and graduation topped it off. I started the day off early at six a.m. I got ready for the day, did some stuff around the house, and ran some errands in town. When lunch came around, my mom, a good family friend, and I had lunch. After that I went home, and got dressed and made up for graduation. I then went out for dinner with my mom, my friend Jessica and her family. Jessica and I then got to the school around 6:45, got “searched,” forced to take off my Converse shoes (myself, and two of my friends wore Converse instead of heels) because I might hide “forbidden items” in my shoes. After that my friends and I put our caps and gowns on, which involved many bobby pins, and safety pins.
We soon enough lined up, and graduation started! Not without taking many pictures, with some very good friends, and teachers! Being in band, I always had to play for graduation, and being so far away, it made it very hard to pay attention. This year, being so close and the one graduating, it was very different. Being in graduation, makes things go by so much faster, and much, much more fun.
The speeches, and the entire ceremony was just amazing; it just flew by. Soon enough I was walking back across the football field to a song I’ve played many times, with a group of young adults I’ve grown up with all my life. Never have I felt such nostalgia when I stood with my friends, talking with those in the band thinking, “I’ll never perform with you ever again.” It’s a feeling like no other.
After I was herded like cattle through the gym to get my actual diploma, I met up with my friends, for more pictures, hugs, and a few goodbyes. I then went with my friend Madison to the store, picked up some energy drinks, and went back to her house for dessert, and to play a game of Trouble. (Yeah, I know, kind of nerdy.)
After a while we headed back to the high school, to Sober Grad. Sober Grad was the best way to end four years of hard work. I got to hang out with some of my best friends, dance to music, play blackjack, ride a mechanical bull, and so much more! Graduation day was an amazing day that didn’t really end until the next day. It’s a day I’ll remember for a long time, and all my amazing friends made every hard situation that high school put out there worth it.
by Aimee Lewis
Graduation. Something that everyone should go through, at least once in their life. For me, this was my first one, since I was home schooled until high school. First of all, I never knew how tedious graduation practice could be. We had to learn to stand up and sit down at the same time, so everything looked neat. We had to find out who we were sitting next to, and walking with. Thankfully for me, I got to sit with a friend, so it wasn’t too bad.
Now came Friday, the day of graduation. It wasn’t nearly as bad as practice. In fact, it was actually fun. After getting ready with my friends Jessica (also a senior), Laramie and Brianna, I got there an hour and a half before the actual ceremony started, put my gown on, and bobby-pinned my cap to my hair. All of the graduates stood outside next to the gym, got pictures with each other, and their teachers that they’ve had throughout the four years.
After a while, we all got into our rows, and the ceremony finally began. I could tell that everyone was nervous, trying to tell themselves “do not trip, do not trip.” Thankfully, from what I could tell, nobody did.
As we got seated, we listened to speeches from the Reedley High principal, Rodney
Cisneros, a school board member, the student board member, and also the student that was chosen to give a speech.
After all the speeches were finished, they started handing out the diplomas. One by one, everyone was called up. It was probably one of the best moments of every one of the graduate’s lives. As we walked back to the gym to get our ‘actual’ diplomas, I could tell that everyone was much happier now that they’ve taken a big step into adulthood.
Though I know that from now on, all of our lives will get harder, I still breathe a sigh of relief that high school is officially over. Congratulations class of 2011. We did it!