By Mary-Justine Lanyon
The Performing Arts Center at Rim of the World High School was filled with excited parents, grandparents, guardians, siblings and friends – all there to cheer on the 15 students graduating from Mountain High School.
As the graduands marched in to “Pomp and Circumstance,” the audience rose to their feet and the cheering began.
“Thank you for being here to celebrate this accomplishment,” said Principal Marina Amador as she welcomed the students’ guests. “These students have worked hard.”
The class address was given by Scott Craft, a retired Rim teacher and coach and a current member of the Rim school board.
“I’m very excited to be here,” Craft told the students, turning to face them. “I had some of you as students.”
Craft noted that he was “not the gifted one in my family but I found my path in wrestling.” It was wrestling that got him to college but, after injuring his knee, he dropped out.
“My younger brother was wrestling at Rim,” he said, “so I started coaching and realized that’s what I really wanted to do. And I realized that teaching would be a good path.
“I found my purpose. Once you find that – whether it’s being a parent, owning your own business, something you’re passionate about – everything else falls into line.”
Craft told the students that he had taught and coached at Rim for 33 years.
“A lot of people taught me a lot of things. You can relate to that. There are people in your lives – parents, teachers, classmates, the friend down the street. If you look for them, there are a lot of people willing to help you, guide you in life.
“You can go on to do greater things than you ever thought you could. Apply that hard work. And say ‘thank you’ once in a while and mean it. Bring up something that really helped you.
“Those principles have guided my life. But let it be your own path. Find out what you really want and write that book for yourself. Find that purpose in life and you’ll be happy.
“I wish you nothing but luck,” Craft concluded.
The student address was given by Carsin Haviland. “We have worked tirelessly and I am incredibly proud of each of us for marking this milestone. Our high school years have been a time of growth. We have formed lifelong friendships and learned lessons of hard work.
“As we move on, we must carry with us the lessons we have learned and the memories we have made. We must remember the people who have helped us. We must be aware of the challenges that lie ahead, embracing diversity and inclusivity.
“Let us celebrate this momentous occasion and look forward to the future with optimism. May we all go forth with positive impact on the world.”
Scholarships were presented to nine students by three organizations.
Michelle French, president of the Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club, presented six $350 scholarships. These students were nominated by their teachers.
The Service Above Self award was presented to David Granados, who “rose to challenges and faced obstacles head on.” He will be joining the Marines in July.
The Trustworthy and Honorable award went to Aran Hagen, who came to Mountain High just this past February.
The Perseverance award was presented to Julia Mercado who, French said, “was not expected to graduate. She needed what seemed like insurmountable credits. And she gave birth to a little girl,” who was in the audience.
The Inspirational student was Carsin Haviland, who shared her methods of keeping on top of her studies.
Leonard Ice received the Leadership award, having joined the school site council. He was particularly interested in discussions about budget and spending, French said.
The Arts, Music and Drama award went to Amalia “Molly” England. “The teachers saw kindness in her heart,” French said. Molly graduated early and took pride in helping other students. She was also on the school site council and was a student representative to the school board.
Aylene Popka, representing the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Club, noted that “Rotarians around the world are interested in supporting students and education.” Her club awarded two scholarships as incentives. When the two students – Camila Flores Barrios and Ireland DeVries – start any program to further their education, they will receive $500 each.
A new scholarship this year was presented by the Rim of the World Educational Foundation. Board members Dana Chapin and Priscilla Williams awarded $500 to Katerine Patron Medina, who was nominated by counselor Lisa Mills.
“Katerine has shown great potential not only in academic achievement but in personal growth,” Mills wrote of the student. “She is responsible, motivated and disciplined. She came to Mountain High School in February, focused on finishing in June and she accomplished that.” Katerine’s plan is to pursue a degree in nursing.
“Thank you so much,” Amador said to the three organizations. “You make them feel so special. Life happens and they recovered.”
As Amador read each student’s name, she handed them a diploma. The students then received hugs and handshakes from their four teachers: Ryan Stuehrmann, Scott Whiteside, Susan Williams and LaDonna Guzman.
Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Fricker welcomed and accepted the graduating class of 2023 as audience members cheered, whistled and applauded.
The new graduates – Caitlyn Baker, Ireland DeVries, Amalia “Molly” England, Camila Flores Barrios, David Granados, Aran Hagen, Carsin Haviland, Leonard Ice, Julia Mercado, Chase Montgomery, Andrew Nunez, Katerine Patron Medina, Anthony Pospychala, Alexander Ramirez Gonzalez and Cyrus Simmons – then turned their tassels and tossed their caps in the air.