San Jacinto grads ‘Shoot the Moon’

City and county dignitaries sing the praises of SJHS’ accomplished Class of 2017 under a beautiful full moon

Photo by Corey Evan/The Valley Chronicle
SJHS graduates celebrated commencement in early June, receiving praise from local and county dignitaries for academically “shooting the moon.”

■ Corey Evan / Reporter

In card games, to “shoot the moon” means taking your opponents for a ride. In school, to “shoot the moon” means outdoing the accomplishments of all who came before you. San Jacinto High School’s graduates did just that, according to school staff and local dignitaries.
Those 447 graduates took to Tiger Stadium on June 8, before a sold-out crowd which hardly had any elbow room but plenty of love to show their grads. Also there to show their love was a group of kindergarteners, a new graduation tradition in San Jacinto which started last year. This year’s featured kindergarten class came from Edward Hyatt Elementary, representing the SJHS Class of 2029. It’s amazing how quick they grow up, isn’t it?
Even the moon showed its love for San Jacinto, as the full moon just happened to light up the night sky that evening. But before the grads made their walk, here’s what officials had to say about these accomplished new adults:
ASB President Summer Helms reminded her fellow graduates to learn, remember and live: “Our fear should not be failure or anything along the lines of this; our fear should be complacency. We should fear the ‘comfort’ of settling for less than we deserve.”
As his first graduating class, Principal Luke Smith reminisced on meeting this class three years ago: “I have watched you go through the classes, the homework, the exams, the senior projects, the time spent in community service. I’ve seen the differences you’ve made on campus through clubs and building your sense of pride through athletics. You have all come through San Jacinto High School with a rich experience that we’ll look back on as the time that you laid the foundation on for a successful future.”

Photo by Corey Evan/The Valley Chronicle
Left to Right: Valedictorian Angela Acosta, Salutatorian Anneka Jacynth Manzano, and Historian Katia Talamantez.

Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Judy D. White was also overjoyed for one of the most accomplished classes in the county, according to her office: “There are 33,699 graduates in Riverside County, but the most important ones are you. I believe in you because you have grit.”
San Jacinto Mayor Scott Miller’s excitement was on full display as he expressed his joy for his fair city’s grads, even as he took care of business (taking selfies with the class): “Whenever there’s a battle between a Tiger and a Bulldog, guess who’s gonna win that fight! So if you’re here tonight from ‘Bulldog Country’, we love you… BUT who has the bell?” The victory bell, by the way, was proudly on display before the crowd.
The SJHS choir then took the stage and did a riff on a Walk The Moon hit song, calling it “Get Up and Dance,” to recognize all the hard work these grads had to get up and dance about.
Class Historian Katia Talamantez asked classmates to look at this page of SJHS history like this: “If there’s anything that high school has truly taught us, besides academics, it’s that failure is inevitable and necessary for future success. We are imperfect humans that make mistakes and there’s no way around that.”
Salutatorian Anneka Jacynth Manzano passed along this bit of advice from her mother: “Remember your limitations; she told me this as a reminder to always be aware of our situation and our capabilities. And as a reminder that there’s always a way to make an opportunity and to create our own chance to accomplish what we desire.”
Valedictorian Angela Acosta, who was among Record Elementary’s first kindergarteners 13 years ago, reminded classmates that although now independent adults, they still will depend on others along the way: “Through both your successes and your failures, you need people to support you and help you bounce back.”
Before accepting Smith’s certification of the Class of 2017, SJUSD superintendent Diane Perez had this to say to the class she first met 13 years ago, when she first got hired at SJUSD: “As a district counselor, I was with many of you on day one. Flash forward to today, and you continue to be so remarkable!”
Perez cited, among many stats Smith cited, the $4.1 million in scholarships the grads earned (twice what last year’s class earned) SJHS’ low dropout rate and having the 9th highest graduation rate in Riverside County, and a bronze medal awarded SJHS by U.S. News and World Report.
Once these 447 graduates took to the stage to collect their accolades, which they did at breakneck speed, the “S” lit up on the north mountain to close out the evening and signal these grads to toss their hats. As the grads departed to celebrate their good times, the sounds of Kool and the Gang and the clangs of the coveted victory bell filled Tiger Stadium as traffic filled the neighborhood.
Congratulations Class of 2017! And remember, life IS a game: You must play to win, always. Don’t let small defeats stop you as you play on.

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