JOHNSTOWN — The Northridge school community gathered Sunday to celebrate the successes and accomplishments of the Northridge High School Class of 2009. Students, family members, friends, school board members, administrators and staff witnessed the sometimes solemn, sometimes light-hearted graduation exercises.
High School Principal James Hall welcomed the guests and recognized the contributions the attendees made in helping the seniors reach their graduation goal.
“You will be asked many times where you are from,” school board president Troy Willeke told the Class of 2009. “How will you answer?”
He said one could list one’s friends or activities or other things to describe the past and, for the future, encouraged the seniors to “Always be a first-rate version of yourself rather than a second-rate version of somebody else.”
Student body president and salutatorian Julia Ware was the first of nine student speakers. She talked about what school has meant to her, listing some of the best of times and some of the worst of times.
“This part of our lives is over,” she said. “We finally made it through. Remember to cherish each moment and remember our class motto, ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’”
“In one sense, after graduation,” said Derek Hull, valedictorian, “we will have a new slate. This is our chance to try out new things.”
Hull then explained it isn’t truly a new slate, but one also containing all of the background and experiences of the past.
“Don’t forget where you came from,” he said.
“We always knew this day would come,” said valedictorian Jessica Potter. “It did. To all our family and friends and teachers and staff who helped us make it, thank you.”
Valedictorian Alex Scott encouraged his fellow seniors to recognize the importance of the present.
“The past is gone and the future is uncertain,” said Scott. “Today is now — don’t mess it up.”
After reminiscing about experiencing consequences, positive and negative, Tony Dellapino, valedictorian, challenged his classmates to take risks and to take advantage of every opportunity for the remainder of their lives.
“Dare to make a difference in the world,” Dellapino told his classmates.
Valedictorian Larissa Hall used music to convey her thoughts. She saluted her school friends and exhorted everyone to stay in touch with each other. Accompanying herself on the guitar she sang, “Dear friend, thanks for the best years of my life. I mean that. Without you I don’t know what I would do.”
Fond memories and memorable moments highlighted the speech by Alan Witte, valedictorian. He then told his fellow seniors, “I wish all of you the best of luck and success in all your endeavors.”
Valedictorians Holly McKimmins and Carolyn Ryberg teamed up to take their classmates on a stroll down memory lane. Using anecdotes and music of the times, the duo listed school sports and world happenings for each of the grades, kindergarten through 12th.
“Reflect on the past,” they said. “Dream about the future, but be present in the moment. Celebrate the day. ... We did it.”
The presentation of diplomas was followed by the ceremonial turning of the tassels and the singing of the school’s alma mater.
Additional music for the commencement program was provided by the Northridge Concert Band and Vocalise.