One of Beaumont High School Class of 2016’s valedictorians Shayeed Syed shared a memory with her fellow graduates on June 2, during their commencement ceremony.
“So, to all my fellow graduates here today, remember the first day of high school when we were all innocent, little and clueless? Well, get ready because it is all about to happen all over again as we enter college, workforce, or simply the real world. However, don’t worry because just like we completed high school with our heads held high, we will do it again!’’
Words of wisdom to the 514 graduates, who were experiencing a wide range of emotions during one of the biggest nights of their lives.
Family and friends sat in the bleachers in the high school stadium to watch the seniors make the transition to graduates during the two-hour ceremony.
Before the ceremony, Kevin Ovando, 18, and Adrian Nunez, 17, talked about their future plans.
Ovando said he plans to join the Navy at the end of July and serve in the military for four to six years.
The thought of graduating was a little daunting. “I’m very excited and scared at the same time,” Ovando said.
Nunez, an AVID student, said he had a different feeling. ‘It’s just like another day,” said Nunez, who plans to attend a local college, then transfer to University of California, Riverside, or a Cal Poly school to study bio-medical engineering.
Selina Jamomo, 18, plans to attend Mount San Jacinto Community College and study business.
“It feels really good,” Jamomo said. “Everybody says it goes by fast and they were right.”
Scott Mason, pastor of Beaumont Presbyterian Church, and his wife, Rena, were going to watch their daughter Kavya Mason, 18, graduate.
Kavya will attend the University of Redlands, and study biology.
“We’re excited, but also nervous about what’s next,” Scott Mason said. “It’s like we’re setting her out adrift.”
The processional began a little early, with the 514 graduates walking behind Riverside County Superintendent Kenn Young and Beaumont school board members and administrators.
Beaumont High School principal Christina Pierce was doubly excited because her son, Avery Rivera, was among the graduates.
Pierce became emotional during her speech and told the students that their parents had raised them to become productive members of society.
She also reminded the students to always be proud of their school.
“No school can beat us when it comes to school pride,” Pierce said.
As Pierce was talking, the beach balls started bouncing back and forth between the graduates and administrators were having to take the beach balls and deflate them.
No sooner than some of the beach balls disappeared, new ones began popping up time and again throughout the ceremony.
Retiring Beaumont Superintendent Maureen Latham told the graduates how proud she was of their success.
“Class of 2016. Thank you for ending my career in education on such a high note. You have taught me about respect and pride and what the values of home, school and community look like,” Latham said.
School board president David Sanchez, whose son, Anthony Sanchez, was graduating, said that these students were starting kindergarten when he first became a school board member.
He told them that the easy steps in life would end that night with graduation.
Retiring school board member Wayne Hackney became emotional, talking to the graduates.
“I began working at Beaumont High School in August of 1986 and have been part of the graduation ceremonies for the past 30 years,” Hackney said.
Riverside County Superintendent Kenn Young told the graduates that in the U.S., in 1900, high school graduates numbered only seven percent.
In 2016, the graduation rate in Riverside county is 87.4 percent, the third highest in the state.
Beaumont High School’s graduation rate is 93.8 percent.
Tricia Van Sickle, an instructional aide at San Gorgonio Middle School, was one of the parents whose children were graduating that night. She was given the opportunity, since she is a school district employee, to present her daughter, Madalyn, 17, with her diploma.
Madalyn plans to attend California State University, San Bernardino, and study nursing.
“You feel so proud,” Van Sickle said. “You’re a parent, but you’re also an employee.”
Afterward the ceremony, Daria Munoz, 18, talked about her plans to study psychology at the University of California, Irvine.
“There’s a sense of closeness we have, the class of 2016,” she said.
Meghna Lau, 18, also will study psychology, but at UCR. What will she miss most? “I think it’s just being with my friends,” Lau said.