Woodlake graduates 100th class
By Reggie Ellis
woodlake – Every year Woodlake High School graduates can claim athletic titles, academic achievements and community service milestones. But the Class of 2017 are the only Tigers who can claim the title of the 100th graduating class from Woodlake High School (WHS).
Principal Rich Rodriguez said it was a special moment for these graduates, not just because they were graduating, but because they were graduating as part of the historic 100th class. He said this year’s class had overcome many obstacles during their four years at WHS and earned a half million in scholarships for the next step in their education.
“You all made a difference at Woodlake High School and I expect you will make a difference in the world,” Rodriguez said.
The world and time itself has made a difference in the lives of senior twins Brooke and Brianne Rivas. Brooke said when she and her sister were born three months early in 1999 premature babies only had a 40% chance of survival, but both made it thanks to the desire, love and dedication of their family. But now that has improved to 90% thanks to advancements in medicine and graduates like those at WHS who have gone on to change the world.
“The most difficult road often leads to the most beautiful destinations,” she said.
Shania Finney, backed up by WHS Band Director Richard McCue, played an acoustic rendition of “Cat’s In the Craddle” as graduates on the field and friends and family in the stands waived their cell phones like lighters in the air. The 127 graduates singing along was in stark contrast to the handful of graduates of the Class of 1917.
Valedictorian Paulo Rodriguez shared the podium with Co-Salutatorian Zoe Sweeney to deliver a bilingual address to the stadium. The girls quoted Donovan Livingston whose 2016 speech at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Convocation exercises became an inspirational video that went viral online. “No, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning. Lift off,” they quoted Livingston before adding their own take: “When you reach for the sky keep going and reach for something greater. All of us are destined to reach the stars.”
Superintendent Drew Sorensen said he was proud of the graduates behind him, not only because of their academic achievements, but because of their selfless attitudes. He said the Class of 2017 had collectively completed more than 15,000 hours of community service, or about 7 and a half years of working a 40-hour work week.
The last student to speak, Misty Stevenson, said the way in which she and her classmates measured their time at WHS has evolved as they have matured. As freshman they measured their time in class periods, as sophomores in semesters and juniors in rank. But as seniors, now at the end of high school, Stevenson said she will measure her time in the friendships she has made.
“Let us never forget where we came from and be proud that we were part of the 100th graduating class of Woodlake High School,” Stevenson said.