Celebrating That Second Chance - Mountain News : Mountain Living

Celebrating That Second Chance

By Mary-Justine Lanyon, Editor | Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014 12:00 am

As the parents and friends of the 48 students graduating from Mountain High School awaited their arrival in the performing arts center at Rim High, they listened to a piano prelude played by Kyle Miltier, one member of the Class of 2014.

And as those parents became aware of the students processing in, the hoots and hollers began.

Principal Tad Smith told the packed auditorium and the graduates that “this experience as your principal has humbled me as an educator. You are unique, talented, diverse, loving, caring, challenging. I am so proud of all of you.”

One thing for the students to realize, Smith said, is that “life is an adventure, not an ultimatum. It’s how you impact others.”

Before the presentation of scholarships and diplomas, the students were treated to a special address by Stuart Chapin, a 2008 graduate of Mountain High School. Chapin has since graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy and will be getting a master’s degree from San Francisco State University.

“Today is your day to celebrate your accomplishments,” Chapin told the students. “Mountain High gave me something no one else would give me: a second chance.

“What an honor it is to speak to you. How great it would have been to have a Mountain High alum speak at my graduation. What did I need to hear? Here’s what I wish I had been told.

“You deserve whatever achievements you accomplish but they come with hard work. Push yourselves hard to be what you want to be. I know you can and will.

“Clear the negative distractions out of your life. Negative friends are the worst. Surround yourself with the types of people you want to become. Feed off their positive energy.

“Aim high. You have the same ability to achieve your goals as anyone else. Aim high because you deserve to be the best.”

Chapin went on to say he met Olympians and Pulitzer Prize winners at UCLA. “They are all humans, just like me.

“I implore all of you—have the resolution and courage to achieve your goals,” Chapin concluded.

His remarks were met with thunderous applause from both the students and the audience.

Seven students—nominated by the teachers, administration and support staff at Mountain High—were awarded scholarships by the Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club, represented by President Armand LeSage and Rudy Westervelt. The award for Arts, Music and Vocational Skills went to McKenna Suman; Character Counts, Taylor Theriot; Inspirational, Brian Cuevas; Perseverance, Janely Barrios; Leadership, Reva Silverstein; Service Above Self, Victoria Rayfield; and the Jim Manson scholarship, Renee Zappas.

Aylene Popka presented a scholarship to Joshua Moran on behalf of the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Club. Cindy Gardner, representing the Rim of the World Communities Scholarship Council, awarded a Mountain Communities Senior Citizens scholarship to Reva Silverstein and a Ginger Jolley memorial scholarship to Rebecca Parker.

David Erlanger, president of the school board, recognized Rebecca Parker for her service as the liaison between the schools and the board for the first two semesters of the year. And Smith presented awards to Tristan Rios, Derrell Romero and Anthony Lomeli—who plan to go into law enforcement—on behalf of the Citizens on Patrol.

As the students came to the front of the stage for their diplomas, Smith said a few words about each—their hopes and dreams. Many want to go to community college. Some mentioned wanting to be a nurse, teachers, counselors, welders, contractors, truck drivers, professional musicians, artists.

The students stood as a class for one final time, turning their tassels and leaving the stage to find their proud families.