HANFORD — The heat couldn’t dampen the pomp and circumstance from Sierra Pacific’s 7th Annual Commencement Exercises at the Neighbor Bowl on Wednesday where 168 graduates completed their four-year journeys.

But before the soon-to-be graduates marched into the Neighbor Bowl drawing illustrious cheers from the crowd, they readied themselves in the Hanford gym. Caps were pinned and straightened, sashes were smoothed and leveled, and plenty of selfies were taken.

After a class photo, the Golden Bears made their way into stadium and took their seats. Senior Class President Julio Vargas and ASB President Bryn Frauenheim opened the ceremony by welcoming those in attendance and the Class of 2019.

“I was basically just trying to reach out to the students and let them know that all their hard work has finally paid off and they can finally take a rest,” Vargas said about his time at the podium. “But expect for the real world to come around the corner and hope for the best for all of them.”

Vargas, who will be attending West Hills College for a year and a half before transferring to UCSB to major in psychology, said he couldn’t believe how fast his four years flew by.

“I just wish I could do high school all over again to experience it one more time,” Vargas said.

Sierra Pacific principal Darin Parson said the Class of 2019 helped build and establish a great culture, which will carry on into the future. He honored the graduates with distinction first — those who held a 4.0 GPA in every semester of their high school careers — and a couple more speeches from students followed.

In Arijeet Grewal’s speech, the co-valedictorian talked about finding “X” like in a math equation, but in life.

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“Why find X,” Grewal inquired to his classmates. “It comes down to leaving a mark. Our legacy. What contributions are we providing to better our loved ones and our entire communities?”

Grewal said he had a lot of help from his family and teachers to help him achieve being co-valedictorian. His best friend Kavn Aulakh was also valedictorian. Grewal will attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and, although he doesn’t have to choose a major until his sophomore year, plans on double majoring in computer science and economics.

“I really enjoyed my academics and learning and education,” Grewal said about his time at Sierra Pacific. “It really all came down to the support I had and my own personal drive.”

He finished his speech by stating what he believed are three key principles to the future: 1. The journey to find X must be fun and filled with happiness. 2. The only enemy that can defeat you is the enemy within yourself. 3. Use the tools and connections you’ve made in the last four years to find X.

Soon after a performance of rock band Green Day’s “Good Riddance” by graduating senior Braxton Mitchell, Parson presented the Class of 2019, Superintendent William Fishbough accepted the class and the awarding of diplomas commenced.

The traditional turning of the tassels coupled with fireworks closed the ceremony. Families and friends were then allowed on the field where they met their newly minted graduates as “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang played in the background.

“I made a lot of lifelong friendships,” Grewal said. “I’m definitely going to miss a lot of them … my teachers, they were just so helpful the last four years, and I really love them for that. The environment, the people, the experience.”

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Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

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