344 Titans crossed the stage with Principal Dahlstrom hoping they remain kindhearted
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Getting to your graduation day can often be a struggle. But when you’re encouraged to do so with kindness, you should look at the example set by the Tahquitz High School Class of 2018 and follow their lead.
This year 344 Titans made their way across Titan Canyon before friends and family, dressed in hunter green and brimming with excitement.
Principal Eric Dahlstrom says he and his staff have worked to instill compassion in these graduates, “Tonight’s graduation theme is ‘kindness’; We did the ‘Lauren challenge’ this year, which was to create a random act of kindness once per week…trying to continue that on with this graduating class, so they remember that as they go on to their future.” The Lauren Challenge was named in honor of a Tahquitz student who tragically passed away, as a means of keeping their dream alive.
This class not only broke new ground in terms of post-secondary schools that graduates have been accepted to, but also in terms of setting an example for those who struggle with high school. Two of Dahlstrom’s favorite graduates this year are Joseph Priest and Maya Fleming. Priest recovered in time to graduate after initially struggling in school due to issues at home, while Fleming made efforts to start the Tahquitz Black Student Union.
The evening’s guest speaker was Riverside County Superintendent Dr. Judy White, who recognized graduates for being “woke” by saying, “One of the young people told me that ‘woke’ means that you are part of the woke generation that are aware, the woke generation that wants answers to things that simply don’t make sense, the woke generation that will stand up, participate, and walk out against violence, stand up against racism, sexism and classism! I have so much confidence in this woke generation.”
Salutatorian Elica Joy Labaco reminded her fellow graduates to cherish those ties they made with one another here by saying, “I guess everyone knows they won’t miss the school, but the people they created special bonds with. So look among yourselves, look at loved ones sitting in the stands supporting each of you. Don’t forget to thank them, because they made the time and effort to be here and cheer for you.”
Valedictorian Kiyomi Sugita pointed out to classmates that life is like a game, “If you get stuck on a level, it just means there’s more for you to learn at that stage. Therefore, don’t give up. Even if times get hard, don’t forget you were able to get through all of the hard work high school asked you for, even though we thought we’d die in the process! So keep pushing and you’ll eventually get through.”
HUSD Superintendent Christi Barrett added, “Some have said that a graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that individuality is the key to success. I would say your inner-strength is your key to success!”
One by one Barrett gave them the holders in which he would put their diplomas the next day. As the sun set on the Titan Stadium, so did the graduates’ high school careers. Now that they have tossed their caps in the air celebrating this ending, it’s up to them to pick their caps off the ground and start a new beginning. Congratulations Tahquitz Graduates of 2018!