California High School senior Ellie Wirts urged her fellow CHS graduates to "live in the moment" during Sunday's graduation ceremonies.
Wirts spoke to a nearly packed crowd at the CHS gym as the school graduated 91 seniors, including 22 National Honor Society members and five Bright Flight scholars.
Depite "senioritis," the class did not quit, she said.
"Today is the day we have all been looking for to since they got rid of nap time in first grade, took away the straws for our milk cartons and terminated our recess time."
Wirts said many fellow students have said, "I cannot wait until I graduate." She cited it as an example of people in her generation "wishing away some of the best days of our lives."
"We should be making the most of each day, so that when we look back on our lives, we will be able to remember some of the greatest times," she said. Like watching some of the teachers shoot during a faculty basketball game, "or the sweet feeling of throwing a pie in your math teachers' face, or the chill when the Mr. Pinto contestants came onto stage wearing dresses and danced to the popular song 'Let It Go,' from the movie 'Frozen.' These memories will be with us for the rest of our lives."
Students should capture such moments to recall later, she said.
"Our generation is constantly looking forward to what is next in life versus what is right in front of us," she said, adding that tomorrow is not guaranteed. "So, rather than look back in 20 years and wished we had enjoyed these times more, let's learn to live in the moment and enjoy each day."
After high school, life will present challenges that will make students appreciate their high school years," Wirts said.
She also said that without the guidance of the school community and parents, graduates would not be as well-rounded as they are today.
As graduates stepped up one by one to receive their diplomas, the reading of their names were punctuated by applause and the occasional blast of an air horn.
Gunner Baquet, class president, gave the closing comments, taking a selfie of him with the class before the graduates tossed their caps into the air.
He thanked the people who made a difference in their lives, singling out mothers in particular: "Moms, I'm sure most of you are still thinking in your heads how we managed to take a day like Mother's Day and still make it about ourselves. But thank you for all that you have done for us."
He then asked all the mothers to stand and be recognized.
He said proud and thankful for being able to know his fellow class members.
The class has had highs and lows, but has always managed to be there for one another for support, he said.
Baquet urged his fellow graduates to aspire to greatness.
"Be passionate and daring and know when to take risks," he said.
Pick up a copy of the May 17, 2017 issue of the California Democrat newspaper for additional news and photos from the California graduation ceremonies, baccalaureate services and scholarship awards banquet.