Hundreds of people lined the steps of the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium on Thursday afternoon, as eager to escape the heat as they were to watch the Liberty Ranch High School Class of 2019 graduate.

Inside the auditorium, air horns and cowbells joined a chorus of cheers, nearly drowning out the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance” as the graduates — dressed in green caps and gowns — strolled triumphantly to their seats in the front.

Standing on stage with her fellow associated student body officers, ASB President Olivia Nelson congratulated her fellow graduates for reaching the culmination of their efforts over the last four years. She applauded them for taking advantage of the opportunities for growth that Liberty Ranch gave them, and wished them well as they begin new chapters in their lives.

“Live today the best that you can, and when you have a choice, choose happy,” Nelson said.

ASB Vice President Connor Leipelt followed Nelson with a speech of his own, recounting some of his fellow Hawks’ achievements in athletics, such as making it to section finals for basketball, as well as academics and school events.

“I am proud of everything we have accomplished over the last four years,” Leipelt said.

ASB Secretary Juliet Rodriguez took a moment to thank Liberty Ranch’s teachers and staff for the long hours — including nights, weekends and holidays — they dedicated to help the graduates succeed.

“Thank you, once again, for making us part of the Hawk family,” Rodriguez said.

Alexis Gamez-Luna, ASB treasurer, made sure the graduates’ families felt the gratitude as well.

“Thank you for being our guiding lights, and shaping us into the young adults that we are today,” Gamez-Luna said.

After students Taylor Little and Gabriel Montesano sang “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical “Rent,” the senior class officers took to the stage to recount the Class of 2019’s shared journey: From their first homecoming rally as freshmen, to their first prom as juniors, to graduating seniors preparing for their futures.

Senior Vice President Sloan Baysinger wished her fellow graduates the best as they embark on new paths — whether they lead to college, careers or the military — before presenting the Class of 2019 senior gift: Reusable water bottle stations on the Liberty Ranch campus.

“This is our day. Today is the day than we have worked toward for the last 12 years of our lives,” Baysinger said. “Thank you, and congratulations.”

Walter Paul Kessler, the Class of 2019’s valedictorian, then gave an address of his own, recalling how Liberty Ranch became a “second home” through long nights spent with friends, conversations over the lunch table and cheering the school’s various athletic teams to victory. Kessler spoke of learning values such as friendship, teamwork and dedication, and thanked the families, teachers and staff who imparted those lessons before bidding a bittersweet farewell to his fellow graduates.

“I wish you all the best of luck,” Kessler said. “We did it.”

Before calling the graduates to the stage to receive their diplomas, Principal Joe Saramago took a moment to congratulate them before encouraging them to embrace life’s new challenges with the confidence they gained during their time at Liberty Ranch High School.

“Tonight is one shining moment in the bright future each of you has in front of you,” Saramago said.

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