By Mary-Justine Lanyon
(Photos by Mary-Justine Lanyon)
The salutatorian – Adeline Epstein – and valedictorian – Neva Hidajat – shared some levity as well as wise words with their fellow graduands at the 67th commencement ceremony at Rim of the World High School.
Addy thanked her parents for trying to teach her punctuality – “which I still lack. We are all following different paths,” she said. “We are all faced with answering one question: How will we make the most out of the time we have left?”
Quoting from Gilmore Girls, Addy said that “people can live 100 years without really living for a minute.” She added that “none of us can travel back in time but there’s one thing we have control of: What we decide to do with every passing second.”
Up until now, Addy said, everything has been a routine: get up, go to school. “Now it is time to embark on a new journey. The only way to make the most of this independence is to break away from what we have become accustomed to. Always try a new experience.”
Neva reminded her classmates that they have memories they will treasure forever. “Remember when all our toilet paper and soap disappeared?” she asked. “That was truly a crisis.”
She thanked her parents, saying they never failed to support her dreams. “Your love and wisdom are limitless,” she told Lia and Robert Hidajat.
Then she told the guests she hoped they had brought their sunglasses. “You’ll need them to protect your eyes from the shiny potential of the Class of 2023.” That comment drew wild cheering from both the graduands and their guests.
“We’ve all come so far,” Neva said, calling out the various roles they have played over the course of their four years at Rim High. “You’re all just really cool people. This isn’t goodbye. I’m sure we’ll see each other in 10 years. I hope some of you aren’t already balding.”
Keeping the tone light, Neva said she “will never forget our collective hate for Shakespeare. We’ve written better paragraphs in the yearbook that we’ve ever written in English.
“We’re all lucky to be part of this race called humankind,” Neva said, “so let’s be both – human and kind. It can be hard to care about something happening thousands of miles away but I hope you realize the impact our actions can have on the people sitting right next to us.
“It’s not about being the most popular in high school or winning every game, about having it all or being above it all. It’s about feeling real connections and having real conversations with others. That’s what it means to be humankind.
“Even in our darkest moments, we must always offer the humanity within us. This is our moment – now or never. Get out there and live it up. Congratulations, Class of 2023 – we did it!”
Principal Brian Willemse told the graduands he had sat in their seat as a Rim senior. “I knew then as I know now how great it is.” He asked seniors planning to go into the military to stand, then those attending a four-year college, those attending a two-year college or trade school, those planning to enter the workforce.
“I feel pretty confident about the group we are sending our into the world,” Willemse said.
In his commencement speech, retired teacher and coach Scott Craft urged the graduands to “write your own story. Find your own path and do it the way you want to do it.
“Once you find your passion, you’ll have everything you need in life. I wish that for all of you. I’m happy to call myself a Rim High graduate.”
Craft asked parents in the audience who had graduated from Rim to stand. “That’s what’s great about this community – people who stay here, become an integral part of the community. We saw that with our snow problems. I’m happy and proud to be part of this community.”
Principal Willemse presented the Champion award from Assemblyman Tom Lackey to Miles Kelley. “I’m proud to present this award, he said. The award recognizes one student who has overcome significant obstacles to gain their diploma.
“Not everyone’s path is the same. There have been troubles, trauma, sacrifice. What’s important is you persevered.”
Miles plans to attend San Bernardino Valley College, where he will study art. “My goals are very important to me,” he said. “To live my life to my fullest despite my illness. I will gain life experience. I will gain more resilience and handle what’s next for me.”
After the Rim High choir sang “Amigas Para Siempre” (“Friends for Life”) – a performance that showcased their talent – Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Fricker accepted the Class of 2023. Assistant Principal Brian Keaney and Marina Amador, principal of Mountain High School and Rim Virtual Academy, took turns reading the names of the graduands, who received their diplomas from their senior class advisors, Kristil Cobb and Amanda Markovich. Meanwhile, the Rim High band, which had played “Pomp and Circumstance” as the students marched in, played the Rim High alma mater.
Fourteen students graduated from Rim Virtual Academy, nine of whom chose to walk with the 224 Rim High graduates.
Many of the students sported special sashes, representing the branches of the military they plan to enter or their involvement with the National Honor Society or AVID. The class officers wore sashes indicating their service. Some students wore sashes representing the countries of their family origin and at least one wore a “first gen grad” sash.
Once all diplomas had been conferred on the students, they turned their tassels and many tossed their caps into the air.