Although they lost two of their own this school year, the message of Wednesday’s Liberty Ranch High School graduation was to live.
In all, 268 graduates — including Jacob Tibbets, who made his entrance with a cartwheel — walked across the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium stage, flanked by the eight-foot numerals “13,” made of topiary and adorned with white flowers.
Several student body leaders remarked how this group became less of a class and more of a family as the high school years ticked by. They were, after all, upper classmen all four years — they acted like juniors when they were mere freshmen as there was only one group ahead of them, the Class of 2012.
“We have made it. Take a second to breathe,” said Sierra MacLeod, one of two valedictorians this year. The determination of who is chosen is based solely on grade point average, and she and Faith Lemire-Baeten tied with 4.378s.
MacLeod is the third valedictorian in her family, and the second in Galt.
Co-valedictorian Lemire-Baeten, wearing a giant hot pink lei, blew a kiss to her parents before starting her speech. Among others, she thanked her friends, who taught her that there’s always a reason be happy.
She was the first-ever National Merit Scholar at Liberty Ranch.
Other outstanding students were recognized during the ceremony, including Miguel Olvera, who was presented the citizenship award by Assistant Principal Anahi Perez.
“He’s always friendly and willing to help,” Perez said not only of Olvera’s citizenship but his service and leadership.
Senior class president Rachel Finkes was joined by other associated student body leaders to present this year’s senior class gift. They added onto last year’s “Strong As Steele” mural, named for Taylor Steele, a would-be Class of 2012 graduate who lost her battle to cancer in 2011, and created a new mural for the two students they lost this school year.
The names of honorary graduates Katie Dause and Aurelio Soria, who passed away, were read at the beginning of the presentation of diplomas.
“Their lives will live on inside of us,” student body secretary Kelsey Smith said.
Still other students performed at Wednesday’s ceremony, including pianist and graduate William Applegate, who played perfectly without any sheet music, and soloist/guitarist Courtney Tidwell, who performed a song aptly named “Time of Our Lives.”
She sang, “Waiting for our dreams to turn into something we could believe in.”
Senior class adviser Angela Schroeder greeted the students with a loving, “Hello, darlings,” before delivering her speech to the graduating class.
“Here’s my message: ‘Are you ready?’” she asked. “I want you to live. Think deeply, love passionately.”
In closing, Schroeder quoted poet Robert Frost: “(He) said three words about life,” she said, ticking each off on her fingers. “It. Goes. On.”
In his speech, principal Brian Deis said he was impressed not only by the Class of 2013’s diversity, but its athleticism and musicality. He also mentioned the lows its students experienced in losing two of their own.
This is the second graduating class to hold its ceremony at the Sacramento location, and the first class to spend all four years at Liberty Ranch, which opened in 2009.
In the fall, the school board voted 4-1 to allow Liberty Ranch to switch graduation dates with Estrellita in order to secure the venue. Estrellita’s graduation will be held in the school’s courtyard on Friday.
Galt High School’s graduation ceremony is tonight at 7:30 on the football field. Liberty Ranch does not have a lit sports field.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.