Nearly unheard of, Warrior Flight 2013 actually took off early Thursday from Erv Hatzenbuhler Field as Galt High School’s 171 graduates in red gowns and mortar boards filed into the stadium and through an eight foot-tall aluminum star before the 7:30 p.m. departure time.
“Going places” was the theme of the school’s ceremony, as speakers including Principal Maria Orr and valedictorian Mariah Franco talked about graduates becoming their own pilots and going to infinity — and beyond (in their best Buzz Lightyear voiceS).
In her speech, Franco declared that Flight 2013 had overcome turbulence and was now climbing to the top of the world.
As soon as the Galt-Liberty Unified Ensemble band finished “Pomp and Circumstance,” half a dozen beach balls of various sizes and colors kicked off the ceremony as they were launched into the air by the graduates.
Salutatorian Andrew Rudnick, donning sunglasses, kept the energy going when he proclaimed he was a “pretty big deal.” He encouraged his peers to not take life too seriously, and to remember the journey is not necessarily the destination, but what you see along the way.
In all seriousness, Rudnick was chosen as salutatorian for his academic and athletic successes, and namesake given by teacher Phillip Arieas to his now 3-year-old son. Arieas’ wife had suggested Arieas think of a student with virtues he would someday want to see in his own child.
“May my son Andrew emulate your successes,” Arieas said in his introduction.
Franco, a success story herself, was introduced by teacher Alex Bauer who described her accomplishments as “stratospheric.” She had perfect attendance all four years of high school, earned a cumulative 4.4 grade-point average, and on Thursday was bestowed the school’s Citizenship Award by Arieas.
Teacher Cheryl Reece presented graduate Gabrielle Franke with the Audrey O. Reed Award, so named for a Galt High School teacher in the 1960s and given to a student who models loyalty throughout his or her high school career.
Associated student body vice president Elvia Flores, who proclaimed the Class of 2013 a random group of mixed-up students who all love each other, predicted that at their 20-year high school reunion, one would arrive in a sports car, while another would have become a hot shot football player and yet another have her own TV reality show.
Class adviser Nicole Stout appropriately gave the Class of 2013 13 pieces of information to consider for their paths ahead, including that they try not to end up on YouTube as behaviors are always being watched and sometimes even recorded on cellphones.
On the bad days, she reminded the students, remember that some of the best days — like paying bills and changing diapers — haven’t even happened yet.
And just before her presentation of diplomas, Orr recognized half a dozen students joining the Armed Forces, then reminded all students that brick walls aren’t there to stop you, but to show how bad you want something.
“Go under, go around or break right through it,” she said.
Perhaps even fly over.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.