HHS Class of 2018 may be made of steel

Hemet High’s graduating class took to the Ramona Bowl last Thursday displaying the resilience that got them there

Photos by Corey Evan/The Valley Chronicle
Over 500 Hemet High graduates made their way to the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre last Thursday.

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

Hemet High’s graduating class took to the Ramona Bowl last Thursday displaying the resilience that got them there.
The refiner’s fire is not a comfortable place to be. It involves intense heat and repeated hammering. But it is in the refiner’s fire we are purified and prepared to meet our futures. For the Hemet High School Class of 2018, this year was indeed a refiner’s fire.
Losing three classmates and enduring a gun threat on campus were just two of the events that saw these graduates seek strength in one another and become more resilient, according to Dr. Emily Shaw, principal of Hemet High School (HHS).
“You notice that a lot of us talked about the graduates overcoming the challenges that the class experienced; there’s just a lot that happened this year, we lost three students this year, there was just a lot of adversity…”
Shaw had her own adversity to overcome, what with being directly named in a gun threat that a sophomore made against the school this spring. Today she’s okay, though.

A dog joins in on the festivities. Good dog.

But through it all, 540 Bulldogs graduated this school year, 500 of whom appeared before a sold-out crowd at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheater. One of them brought a dog to the Bowl, thus making this Bulldog graduation complete.
ASB President Asheley Rivere recalled the highs, not just the lows, she and her fellow Bulldogs endured to get here today: “Ever since our freshman year, I’ve thought of us as the dancing class, tearing it up at assemblies… And then I saw a class that dances and I just have one thing to say: Y’all need Jesus! But don’t worry, it’s nothing that a few years of therapy won’t cure.”
On a more serious note, Valedictorian Michael McDonald tried his best to take the edge off this new beginning in his classmates’ lives: “Nearly everything is going to change, including ourselves. We’re adults now. And it’s our job to figure out who we’re going to be. Whether you want to be a business tycoon or a grocery store clerk or a crazy government teacher who sings about fiscal economic policy… It’s our time to choose what we’re going to do with our lives and no-one can make that choice for us. But make sure it’s a good one.”
Co-salutatorian Ashlyn Dunn pointed out how blessed her class is to have lived here: “From an outside point-of-view, Hemet may not seem like the best town in the world. But to me, it’s the most amazing town because of all the amazing people who live here. This town and the people in it have changed and inspired me!”
Co-salutatorian Shalini Patel summed up her class’ experience like this: “Freshman year was awkward and unfamiliar. Our sophomore year brought… a wave of friendships and laughs, while junior year was difficult and challenging. However, after it all, finally, we were seniors. Senior year did bring upon many challenges, where we had to make life-changing decisions that impacted our futures. We braved the storm and are prepared to begin a new chapter in our lives.”

Dr. Emily Shaw presents diplomas to graduates. Emily Shaw presents diplomas to graduates. Emily Shaw presents diplomas to graduates.

Superintendent Christi Barrett likened the Class of 2018’s challenges to Grandma Moses, who started painting at age 78: “She said, ‘Life is what we make it. Always has been, always will be.’ I hope this sentiment, as well as her determination to pursue her love of art despite her age, is an inspiration to you.”
After an airplane banner passed overhead congratulating graduate Yriana Gutierrez, and before certifying her graduates before Barrett, Shaw described this class’ defining qualities to them and their cheering sections: “Each of you have your own story of triumph, your own story of resilience and your own story of inspiration. Each of you in the Class of 2018 here with us tonight celebrating is made of steel.”
As the now-alumni of Hemet High made their way out, the sounds of Otis Redding’s “Stand by me” filled the air. From here, the graduates would make their way to grad night, some stopping off at home or their favorite eatery to celebrate with family first. At the end of the night, graduates were each presented with a horseshoe, made of steel and with ‘HHS’ welded onto it by the HHS welding class, to remind them of the refiner’s fire each of them has been through to become who they are today.
As for those of you who noticed the Bulldogs don’t toss their caps at graduation, Shaw says, “I do not know why they do not toss their caps, they just never have.”

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