Hats off to the Class of 2020!

Jun 11, 2020 | Uncategorized

By Mary-Justine Lanyon

It was a graduation that won’t be forgotten by any of the members of the Class of 2020 or their families. While the district could not offer the graduating seniors a traditional event, they came up with a plan that worked smoothly.

Long before the first note of “Pomp and Circumstance” played at the graduation ceremony held at Rim of the World High School, the mountain communities embraced the members of the Class of 2020 with a variety of celebrations.

Several owners of boats took many of the seniors out for a celebratory ride around Lake Arrowhead. The students had so much fun that some have suggested this become a new annual tradition.

At the invitation of Snow Valley Mountain Resort, seniors and their families rode to the top of the mountain to have photos taken (see separate article).
And staff at Rim of the World High School moved the district’s school buses into place to spell “2020” in the high school parking lot.

On graduation day, June 4, many of the seniors drove past their former elementary schools and Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School. Because the schools were closed, they were unable to stroll down the corridors and greet the younger students and their teachers, as previous classes had done.

When the moment arrived for graduation, families lined up in their cars and drove to the football field, stopping in front of the stage, which was set up in its usual spot. Folks at home were able to watch the ceremony on YouTube; as they waited for it to begin, they listened to the familiar graduation tune.

David Nygren, who recently served as principal of Rim High and is now principal of Mountain High School, welcomed everyone. He introduced the ASB officers – Austin O’Kelly, president; and LeeAnn Woodbeck, vice president – who led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Rim High Principal Torri Burke introduced the school board members who were present and then addressed the Class of 2020.

She discovered a number of facts about the school’s mascot, the Fighting Scot, Burke told the students and their families, who were listening over their car radios. They had a reputation of “going into battle as brave warriors,” she said. They demonstrated “adaptability to their ever-changing surroundings.” And they “were highly regarded by their countrymen.

“I know I have not been your principal for long,” Burke said. “However…here is what I have learned about you, the school and the community. The Class of 2020 truly epitomizes our mascot, the Fighting Scot. You all have shown perseverance, pride and patience throughout your 13-year educational journey and, in the last three months, you have demonstrated the qualities of a true Fighting Scot.

“Fighting Scots are brave. Fighting Scots are adaptable. Fighting Scots are highly regarded. You are all Fighting Scots. As you go off an onto the next portion of your journey in life, always remember your bravery, your adaptability and your community and never forget that you are a Fighting Scot.”

Burke was followed by the valedictorian and salutatorian.

“This ceremony and this pandemic are definitely not what we imagined when we started this year in the fall,” said valedictorian Chase Wolfsohn. “Although we missed out on some of the things that were so expected and so hoped for in our high school careers – grad night, senior sunset, senior ditch day – I can’t imagine now it going any other way.

“We are the Class of 2020 – we had to have something memorable to commemorate this wonderful year.”

High school, Chase went on to say, “was about experiencing a taste for our futures and learning from our mistakes. Just because it’s done, doesn’t mean we have to reset our courses completely. Yes, graduating is a huge change but we are still the same people as we were yesterday and the same people we will be tomorrow.”

After offering thanks on behalf of himself and his classmates to their families, their teachers, the administration and God, Chase closed by saying that “we are going to do great things because we have been prepared to do so. Even if we don’t think we are ready, everything that has brought us here hasn’t failed us yet.

“It might be scary looking at our future, not knowing what to do with it, but I’m sure we’ll be just fine and figure out the rest along the way.”

“Despite this pandemic and despite all the tribulations that we have faced this year,” said salutatorian Natalya Marsh, “I am proud to say we graduated in one of the most strange yet savage times of our lives. Class of 2020 will go down in history! I am truly proud to be part of such a special class.”

Natalya went on to thank Rim “for all of the memories we made in your halls and classrooms. Thank you to everyone in the mountain community for making the rest of our year as normal as possible and for doing everything in their power to make our year as special as it could be.

“I am extremely proud of us all,” Natalya said, “and I can’t wait to see where the next journey begins. And, although this isn’t the graduation we expected, I’m still glad we are able to celebrate together for one last time.

“As Ferris Bueler once said, ‘Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ The question isn’t what are we going to do. The question is what aren’t we going to do. Well, I know one thing for sure – we aren’t going to let COVID-19 stop the best class ever from graduating!”

Then, as each car pulled forward, the graduate walked to the stage as family members took photos. Assistant Principal Steven Hartranft announced each student’s name, adding sports, academic, club and community service accomplishments for many.

Senior class advisors Kristil Cobb and Amanda Markovich presented each graduate with a diploma cover, after which the graduates posed for photos with Principal Burke.

There was lots of horn honking as the students walked up to the stage. There was also confetti, balloons and bubbles. One girl danced her way up the ramp to the stage. Many students had decorated their caps and one girl tie-dyed her gown.

For the first time, graduates from both Rim of the World High School and Mountain High School were honored in one celebration. There were 184 from Rim High and 12 from Mountain.

When the last diploma had been handed out, Burke called the senior class officers – Ryleigh Gomez, president; Luke Peterson, vice president; Mason Gann, secretary; and Kyle Taylor, treasurer – to the stage for the turning of the tassel.

Ryleigh and Luke thanked their teachers and their classmates for years of support. “Look out, world,” Ryleigh said. “There is nobody stronger than the Class of 2020!” To that Luke added, “Our future starts today. Each of us will travel our own unique path. No matter where those paths take us, there will be challenges along the way. Meet those challenges straight on with an open mind, your head held high and your heart wide open.

“We have waited for this moment since August of 2016. Class of 2020, you may now move your tassels from right to left!”



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