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Endurance, perseverance highlighted at Moses Lake High School graduation

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | June 12, 2024 3:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — The Class of 2024 started high school in fall 2020, in what Moses Lake High School senior Alena Speed called “the blip.”

Speed was one of two class speakers at graduation ceremonies for the MLHS Class of 2024, and said she wasn’t sure she wanted to mention the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But it was hard to ignore when it impacted so much of our lives,” she said. “Everything about our freshman year was peculiar. Sophomore year finally had an essence of normalcy, and in my own experience, it wasn’t until last year, junior year, that I felt like things were actually feeling what I had thought high school would be like.

“What a wild ride we have been on together,” she said. 

The pandemic taught the MLHS Class of 2024 something important, though, Speed said.

“I think it speaks volumes for the endurance that we hold. The endurance that will follow us into the next chapters of our lives,” she said.

Fellow speaker Adrian “AJ” Moreno said endurance was one of the lessons he learned in wrestling that has benefited him in life. He wasn’t in the best of condition his freshman year and he struggled, he said.

“I always remember something my coach Jaime Garza would yell every time I was down and I was getting, you know, beaten. He would always say, ‘Keep your head up.’ Those words didn’t mean a lot, but to me they did,” Moreno said. “If you’re down, you have to keep your head up to start the fight on your way back up.”

The class chose MLHS history teacher Christopher Zuver as the staff honor speaker, and he said the lessons they learned will be useful as they move on from MLHS. 

“I encourage you to look back on the challenges and changes you encountered in high school,” Zuber said. “While change is inevitable for all of us, your classes faced the last four years with perseverance and determination in the face of changes no one ever anticipated.” 

The adults around them have learned some lessons from the students since the spring of 2020.

“You worked together to build and make the best of each new challenge while inspiring those around you to adapt as well,” Zuber said.

Moreno advised his classmates to tap into that determination when facing the choices and challenges that are ahead — and Speed said the challenges would be out there.

“If we are to go into this world with our heads down, we won’t know what’s in front of us,” Moreno said. “Keeping our heads up will lead us to our true potential. So as we step into this new chapter, go at it with all your strength and always keep your head up.”

Speed said the Class of 2024 now has new choices to make.

“My dad once told me our first major adult decision is deciding what we want to do. And what a major decision it is — the possibilities are endless,” she said. 

Whatever the class of 2024 decides, they can change their minds.

“But know that whatever you decide to do now, it is never too late to pursue more,” she said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

    An MLHS senior looks for family in the stands as the class of 2024 walks in for graduation ceremonies May 31.
 
 
    Moses Lake seniors wait in line to receive their diplomas, stopping to pose for a friend.
 
 
    Two new MLHS graduates snap a selfie.
 
 
    Now MLHS alumni, the class of 2024 leaves Lions Field.
 
 
    An MLHS graduate waves to family in the stands.
 
 
    A Moses Lake senior receives his diploma.
 
 
    A senior gives a thumbs-up to family and friends while waiting in line to receive his diploma during MLHS graduation.
 
 
    Graduation completed and tassels turned, Moses Lake seniors give each other a hug.