OTHELLO — Jay Rodriguez expressed what was probably a pretty common sentiment.
“We made it,” Jay said as he hugged a classmate immediately after graduation ceremonies at Othello High School Friday night. And Jay knew how they did it. “Hard work and dedication, I believe.”
The class of 2019 left high school behind before a packed house at Huskie Field, on a nice and warm, but not hot evening. (“I prayed a lot” for good weather, said OHS principal Alejandro Vergara.) Family and friends turned out in force, bringing balloons and graduation gifts; there’s a newish trend too, small gifts and money wrapped made into necklaces. “Pinterest,” said Beatriz Prado.
Her necklace was for her son Anthony Isiah Prado. “He’s my first graduate,” she said. She was proud of him, she said, and it was a great evening, but – wow, it all seemed to go by pretty fast. “I just didn’t think it would come so soon.”
“I still can’t believe it,” said Elisa Guerra. She was there to watch her daughter Denise get her diploma – and it didn’t seem possible, she said.
“Emotional,” said Petra Cantu. Her daughter Amanda is the youngest. “She’s the last one to graduate.” So Mom and Dad wore special shirts, and Mom made a necklace, and that was only the beginning. “I’ve been preparing for days,” Mom said. (Amanda is a Running Start student, so she will receive her AA degree later this month.)
“Making it here today was no small feat, by any means,” said salutatorian Macy Hampton. She had some trouble writing her speech, Macy said, until she realized what her class is really doing is saying goodbye. It’s the start of something new, said valedictorian Evelyn Silva-Guizar, and she admitted she is a little apprehensive about the next step. “Terrified.”
But she has to take the next step, Evelyn said, and Macy said her classmates have to go out and experience life to find out what’s going to happen.
Julian Gage Pruneda, the ASB president, said there will be negative reactions along the way – in fact, he ran into some negative reactions, including from some OHS staff members, when he was chosen as ASB president. “I took those rotten words and made them positive,” he said. It’s important, he said, for his classmates to stay true to themselves.
Vergara said the class earned $64,150 in scholarships from organizations and businesses around Othello, and about $1.3 million in scholarships from colleges as well as organizations outside Othello.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.