Tuesday, July 16, 2024

‘Overwhelmed with emotions’

Sports Reporter | June 12, 2024 1:30 AM

ROYAL CITY — For their final time as high schoolers, 119 Royal High School seniors walked onto David Nielsen Memorial Field for the RHS graduation ceremony Friday evening, for a program to recognize their achievements made during four years of high school.

After cruising around town during the graduation parade, where vehicles from lifted trucks to boats — yes, boats — were decorated with paint and balloons sharing the school colors, the soon-to-be graduates filtered onto the high school’s football field two-by-two to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

“Today we gather to celebrate a significant milestone in the lives of our graduates,” Senior Class Vice President Jaylen Frank said during her welcoming remarks. “We’ve come together to acknowledge our hard work, dedication and perseverance through elementary school all the way until now. We celebrate our achievements, our growth and our commitment to excellence.”

Following the recognition of students with the highest honors, with the 11 graduates who posted a GPA of 3.75 or higher approaching the stage with their families for photos, graduates Nickole Rodriguez and Luis Deras gave their speeches as the class speakers. 

Rodriguez, the senior class president, reflected on fun memories to begin her speech.

“As I stand up here, I’m overwhelmed with emotions knowing this is the last time we will all be together,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve shared our childhood memories, faced challenges and grown into adults together. We will all remember those moments we shared – like winning state championships, homecoming week, going on school field trips like the Red Rocks Olympics and getting to raise our own butterflies in kindergarten.”

Deras, the senior class treasurer, spoke about hurdles that the Class of 2024 faced, as well as some of the firsts.

“Together, we overcame many obstacles along the way — including the coronavirus, where we wouldn’t see each other for several months because of the quarantine,” Deras said. “Also having to do the complicated hybrid schedules, but we never let that stop us. This class is truly something special; we’re the first class to pass off our years at the new intermediate school, thus being the first class to really experience learning at the intermediate (level).”

Veronica Brown was the student-selected speaker at Friday’s graduation ceremony, who spoke on the various achievements made by this year’s senior class and building off of their time at Royal High School.

“This time, this place, these last 13 years are great memories to share and for you to build upon,” Barrett said. “They have made you part of who you are today, and you have learned and grown through taking risks, making mistakes, failing at times and learning to adjust and grow in more positive ways … I want you to challenge yourself to find the beautiful things in the world because it’s so easy to see the ugly or unpleasant.”

Royal School District Superintendent Roger Trail presented the graduating class to the school board, and the seniors lined up one by one to walk across the stage and receive their well-deserved diplomas. Following the turning of the tassels, the Class of 2024 formed a circle in the west end zone of the football field and tossed their caps into the air, ready to embark on the next chapter of their lives.

“Graduates, your journey to this moment has been marked by dedication, resilience and an unwavering commitment to excellence,” Trail said during his closing remarks. “You have navigated challenges, embraced opportunities and grown into remarkable individuals ready to take on the world. As you step out into the world, remember the education you have received here is not just a collection of facts and figures, but a torch that will illuminate your path. Carry it forward, let it guide you and use it to light the way for others.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com. 

    A Royal High School graduate sprays silly string during the graduation parade on Friday evening.
    A pair of Royal High School graduates wave to the crowd during the processional at Friday’s Royal High School graduation ceremony.
    Royal High School graduates toss their caps into the air following Friday’s graduation ceremony.
    Royal High School Senior Class Vice President Jaylen Frank speaks during Friday’s graduation ceremony.
    Graduates decked out their vehicles in various decor for Friday’s graduation parade, including this trio who cruised the streets of Royal City in a towed boat.
    Royal High School Senior Class President Nickole Rodriguez, right, and Senior Class Treasurer Luis Deras, left, give their speeches as class speakers at Friday’s graduation ceremony.
    A Royal High School graduate smiles for a photo at Friday’s graduation ceremony.
    Eleven Royal High School graduates were recognized for receiving highest honors at Friday’s graduation ceremony, given to those with a GPA of 3.75 or higher.