KINGSBURG – During Kingsburg High’s 111th graduation ceremony June 7, students and staff alike reflected on the past, celebrated the present and looked eagerly toward the future as more than 270 Vikings took part in the commencement ceremony at the KHS Bowl.
It was Ryan Phelan first year as principal and thinking back to when he graduated from Kingsburg High in 1998, he said he’s fully realizing just what it will take for the seniors to succeed in life.
“I put so much stock in having the right kind of character, treating people the right way, doing things the right way and having a strong work ethic,” he said of his goal as an administrator. “That’s what I really wish for these kids when they graduate here. It’s not just about how many As they got, but what type of human being they are when they graduate.”
Judging by the comments the seniors expressed just moments before taking the field, even they realized how special their experience at Kingsburg High has been.
“I’m going to miss the town a lot,” Evan Yakligian said. “Everybody here is amazing and sweet. But I’m also looking forward to getting out and exploring the world. Once I do experience the outside world, I think I will appreciate Kingsburg even more.”
Yakligian was one of the student speakers that night and focused on how the graduating Vikings now had even more goals to accomplish in life.
“I’m going to tell students to keep moving forward. We’re going to keep going on with life and moving forward.”
Other student speakers included Jacob Goodbar, Ryan Flippo, Korinne Henselee, Jackson Kuramoto and Lauren Lopez.
Goodbar also reflected on his hometown and said although he’s heading out of state for college, he’ll remember the supportive atmosphere in Kingsburg.
“It’s just one big family. We’re always here for each other and taking care of each other. It’s something we won’t have again when we go off.”
The seniors decorated their caps to reflect their heritage, thank their parents or quote Scriptures, music and mottos that were meaningful to them.
Among them was Ana Teran who borrowed an idea from her sister.
“It says, ‘When you see me fly, remember that you painted my wings.’ It’s because of my parents, my mom especially because she helped me get through school.”
Guadalupe Alvarez decorated her cap with red, white and green stripes of the Mexican flag and the phrase, “Si, se pudo!” which translated means, “Yes, it was possible!”
“Since I was a freshman, I’ve wanted to have the Mexican flag on mine,” Alvarez said. “That’s where I got the idea to show pride in my heritage.”
Derrick Hirschfield, Garrett Pack and Brandon Lutz also decorated their mortar boards and took their inspiration from either their drum corps program, favorite movie quote or music lyrics.
Lutz said now that he’s graduating, he realized just how special Kingsburg High is and advises incoming freshmen to make the most of their four years there.
“It’s just a really good school, overall. The teachers are good and the atmosphere is great. Enjoy it while you can because you’ll come to this night and then it’ll be scary. You never think it will go by fast and then you’re sitting here.”
The evening’s ceremony included greetings, not only in Spanish and English, but Punjabi as well to reflect the heritage of the seniors’ families. The senior choir sang “Unwritten” under the direction of Richard Mynderup. Jacob Anaya recognized members of the Class of 1968 who raised $11,000 in scholarships for the seniors.
Thirty-three valedictorians, one salutatorian and California Scholarship Federation members were recognized during the ceremony as were missing Vikings, student Sonny Terry and 29-year teaching veteran, Mary Deis. Chairs were left empty amongst the students’ and staff’s sections in their honor.
Terry died in May 2015 and the Senior Class decided to honor his passion for skateboarding through their class gift of a skateboard rack. His mother, Janice Terry, was presented with his yearbook and signed poster to commemorate their fellow Viking.
“We know skating was one of his preferred pastimes. The rack will be used by students who share his passion,” Senior Class Vice President Alicia Aguirre said.
Phelan said that as the Vikings head off either to further their educations or to the workforce, he hopes they help inspire the next generation of Vikings.
When they got out in the real world a little bit, they’ll realize how special this place is. If they can give back to the school in some way, this town will keep on producing good young men and women.”