California's 132nd high school class graduated May 13, with 90 members receiving the diplomas marking them as the Class of 2018.
The afternoon graduation included performances by the California High School concert band and the senior choir. Accompanied by the Processional of "Pomp and Circumstance," the class entered the CHS gym for commencement. Principal Sean Kirksey welcomed the family and friends of the members of the CHS Class of 2018 and introduced the first commencement speaker.
"We're ready to move on and make new memories," speaker Allee Koestner said. She spoke of the fifth-grade dreams made when the students had no real idea of what was possible. The class had good cheer teams, math teams, volleyball, basketball and more, all of which brought many skills to the class members.
"These skills will be made good use of after high school," Koestner said. "Opportunities are endless."
The next question is "to stay or to go," she said, speaking of whether the students would decide to stay in the home area or seek a future far from home. Some will find their opportunities in the "home" area, while others will seek their future elsewhere.
"The Class of 2018 has a lot to offer the world," Koestner said, "and I think it's time to see if the world is ready for us."
Following a performance of "Rampage" by the high school concert band, including the seniors, directed by Erika DeMoss, the second commencement speaker was introduced by Superintendent Dwight Sanders.
Speaker Halle Oliver began her speech with the story of a Navy pilot, Captain Plumb, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1964 and flew many successful missions over Vietnam in an F-4 Phantom jet with his fighter squadron. Just five days before he was due to return home, his plane was shot down by a surface to air missile. He was able to eject, and his parachute opened, taking him safely to the ground. But he landed in enemy territory. He was captured and spent the next six years in captivity as a POW in prison camps, where he was tortured.
Years later, retired and back in the United States, Plumb was approached by a person he didn't know, who knew all about him. Asked how the stranger knew so much about him, the answer was, "I packed your parachute." So, years later, the retired Navy captain met the man who did the important job and was responsible for saving his life.
"Who has helped pack your parachute?" Oliver asked. "Parents, teachers, coaches, grandparents?" Maybe the teacher who gave an 'F' on the first paper for their class to "get your attention," a minister, best friend or others. She closed her speech with the statement that whoever helped pack the parachute, it's packed now and the new graduates are ready to go out in the world, well prepared.
"Know that your parachute has been well-packed," Oliver said, "by many wonderful people."
The senior choir, accompanied and directed by Michele Bilyeu, was up next with a performance of "We Won't Stop Dreaming," arranged by Mac Huff.
Kirksey presented the Class of 2018 and School Board President Philip Burger accepted the class. Diplomas were presented by school board members Craig Ash, Brandon Dunham, Joe Kirby, Allison Kruger, Rhonda Meyer, Derek VanLoo and Burger. The class sang "Alma Mater" by Johnson.
In his closing remarks, Class President Caleb Bleich, encouraged the Class of 2018 and told the class it was time to switch the tassels to the other side of the caps. As this was done, many of the graduates tossed their caps in the air to applause.
The concert band performed the recessional of "Rondo" from "Premiere Suite." The class had 28 members in the National Honor Society.