A pair of F/A-18 Super Hornet jets streaked across the sky following the national anthem Thursday night, signaling the start to the Lemoore High School graduation ceremony.

Friends and family erupted into cheers as over 300 prospective graduates sang the school’s alma mater anthem in the middle of the football field.

Honor speaker Leticia Cordova started the commencement with a few words about her experience.

“It was nothing like High School Musical, but my times at Lemoore High School were more than I could dream of,” Cordova said. “We all had the same interest in succeeding. We all wanted to graduate.”

Valedictorian Alec Tashima presented the class gift, which actually turned into two: a water bottle and a donation to restore the tiger mural facing the south side of the stadium.

Tashima credited the success of the Class of 2019 to the countless high school teachers and coaches. He also centered his speech around Dr. Seuss quote, “You have to be odd to be number one.”

“Being odd is being different, unique,” Tashima said. “Embrace what makes you unique. What really matters in this world is the type of person you are.”

He then recounted fond - or not so fond - memories of his time at Lemoore High School. There was the time someone climbed on top of the cafeteria roof. The occasional death glares from teachers. But best of all, none of the graduates would have to go through another LHS fire alarm drill.

Salutatorian Peter Hawken wanted graduates to know how important their future was, he said.

“(Your) next steps will make an impact on generations after this,” Hawken said.

Principal Rodney Brumit recognized the late Jim Bennett “Mr. B” who died May 24 after 51 years as a Lemoore educator, according to his obituary.

Bennett was a teacher, assistant principal and principal at the high school before he retired. He came back to teach biology part-time for nine more years at the Lemoore Middle College High School before his death.

“We lost someone who dedicated over 50 years of his life,” Brumit said. “They say that if you want to leave a legacy, you have to live one. Mr. B did both.”

Brumit also acknowledged retiring secretary Cindy Morales and art teacher Keith Neal. He then continued to present graduate honors and explained where Class of 2019 students were headed.

There are 217 graduates headed to West Hills College Lemoore, 27 to the military and 16 to the College of the Sequoias, Brumit said. Other students are going to various community, private and state colleges.

The ceremony ended with a traditional fireworks display.

“We’re done now,” Tashima said at the end of his speech. “I believe this class will leave this stadium tonight and change the world.”

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