What matters in life is “the dash:” The time between being born and leaving this earth, speaker Carol Ross shared with 10 Westwood Jr/Sr High School graduates during the Friday, June 14 Commencement Ceremony.
“For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth,” Ross quoted from “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. “For it matters not, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.”
According to Superintendent/ Principal Michael Altenburg, who welcomed the crowd and noted Westwood High’s first year was the same as the 1915 explosion of Mt. Lassen, which was no coincidence, he joked.
The 10 graduates, Raquelle Cowen, Caitlan Davis-Macias, Megan Fletcher, Claudia Herman, Greysen Kinsey, James Lopez Jr., Julia Losee-Baker, Haleigh Meeks, Simon Renteria Jr. and Jason Urtiz Haro, shared an evening with family and friends as they celebrated the end of their high school careers, before going off into different directions.
Class president Meeks shared some memories from throughout the years, from the senior bon fire and spaghetti dinners to late night Mario Party games.
“We made it because of our teachers, no matter how many we went through. We made it because of our families, no matter what challenges that brought us. We made it because of our own determination to be here, no matter how easy or hard our path to this moment has been,” Meeks said.
Class Salutatorian Urtz Haro also shared some wisdom with his class.
He discussed this year’s selected quote; “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives,” from Leomny Snicket.
He advised his peers a common reason many wait before advancing into new experiences is because of fear.
He said at the end of the day, it’s not about being afraid, though, it’s about having the courage to take the first step.
“Don’t wait, at least not too long,” he said.
Class Valedictorian Herman also spoke before her classmates and the gym full of friends and family.
“Westwood was a plot twist that I didn’t know I needed,” she said of her move to the area. “I’m forever grateful for the memories we have made together.”
Although they graduated from high school, Herman noted their stories have just begun.
“I do know our stories will be fantastic. Have fun, make new friends, try new things,” she said. “I wish you all find something that makes you happy and you’ll follow it … make every day count and live life to the fullest.”
When Ross spoke to the graduates, after being nominated by them, she shared the trepidation she felt going into a high school class, but eventually she realized she loved each of the students.
“These creatures, these students, these young people stepped right by my fears and into my heart,” she said.
During the ceremony, she handed each graduate a “Dash” of their own; to wear around their necks, to place on their rearview mirrors or wherever they want.
“Let it be a reminder to be the best version of you,” Ross said.
Also during the commencement ceremony, Altenburg announced Herman and Flecther as the recipients of the $2,000 Westwood Alumni Teachers Memorial scholarships. Students also took the time to thank loved ones and teachers. There was even a slideshow sharing class memories and highlighting each of the graduates.
At the end of the ceremony and through the tears and some nervous excitement, the 10 graduates turned their tassels and are off on their next adventures; some are off to college, others are entering the work force with their own business ideas. It was evident in the Westwood High School gym, though; each graduate is loved and supported by family, friends, and the faculty and staff at Westwood High.