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LEMOORE — A quote from the Disney-Pixar movie “Up,” which says “Thanks for the adventure, now go have a new one,” was the theme of the Lemoore High School graduation ceremony Thursday, and the students are definitely ready for their next adventures in life.

After a welcome greeting by students in 10 different languages, “Tiger of the Year” and LHS marching band and color guard drum major Raymond Gonzalez gave a speech to his class.

“For most of us, we’ve been waiting 18 years for this exact moment, and it’s finally here,” Gonzalez said. “As for myself, this day isn’t just symbolizing the end of what seems like the longest chapter of my life, but the beginning of my next great adventure.”

Gonzalez said the students from the class of 2017 will go on to do many different things and enter many different professions, but they should never forget what got them to that place. When thinking about his own life, Gonzalez said being the drum major — the highest student leadership position in the entire band program — gave him a confidence that he never had before.

Though his position held a lot of stress, Gonzalez said he learned to persevere through his mistakes, and became a better leader to the more than 130 students in the program. He said when the LHS band and color guard became grand finalists in the Western Band Association’s grand championship this past year, it showed him that no matter how small the school or the city is, they have the potential to be the best.

“It was an experience that we will all never forget, and also hold with a great amount of pride,” Gonzalez said, adding every student should remember the impact LHS had on their lives and the people who helped them along the way.

Class valedictorian Rachael Camarena told her class she didn’t know all the secrets of life and hadn't gained any more knowledge in her four years at the school than any other classmate, but she would try her best to impart some wisdom nonetheless.

Camarena said while reflecting on her past, she came to the realization that kindergartners and high school seniors have quite a bit in common, including taking a lot of naps and not listening to their parents. More than that, it is during those years when students are asked most what they want to be when they grow up, she said.

Camarena said it was far easier to answer the question as a kindergartner, because whatever the answer was — be it the president or even a mermaid — it was met with “praise and affirmations of confidence.” She said the question is harder to answer as a senior, because you are expected to answer with what others want to hear instead of your true hopes and dreams.

“What you want to be can easily morph into what you should be, and that optimism from kindergarten can get lost in the search for the right path,” Camarena said, adding there’s an overwhelming pressure to pick the right career to be successful.

“Life is about more than chasing the label of success,” Camarena told her fellow students. “What you are — the title of your career — is not who you are. We cannot let ourselves be defined by our jobs and achievements, but instead by what makes us happy.”

Camarena encouraged the class to spend their time doing what they love and what matters to them, rather than what they feel they are expected to do.

“Only then can we become who we truly want to be,” Camarena said.

Principal Rodney Brumit thanked the over 200 faculty members and support staff who mentored all the students over the last four years. He also said the school’s core values of “tradition, innovation, excellence” are what make the school what it is today.

Brumit went on to talk about the successes of the students in academics, sports and co-curricular activities, including completing over 45,000 hours of community service. Over 55 students graduated with honors, there were over 65 students in the California Scholarship Federation and over a dozen students will go on to compete in various sports in college.

Brumit said 25 students plan to enter various branches of the military, 220 students plan to attend West Hills College Lemoore, 24 plan to attend College of the Sequoias, 12 plan to attend various other community colleges, 32 plan to attend California State University, Fresno, 23 plan to attend various other California State Universities, 13 plan to attend various University of California schools, 12 plan to attend private colleges, 30 plan to enter the workforce while some plan to attend trade schools and others will study out-of-state.

“I’m really proud of you guys,” Brumit told the students, before handing them their diplomas and sending them off to find their new adventures.

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