West Ranch High School’s Class of 2021 put distance-learning and isolation in the rear-view, as they came together on the College of the Canyons football field on Wednesday for their in-person graduation ceremony.
In total, the Wildcat graduating class, which had 42% of the class finishing school with a 4.0 grade-point average or higher, a school record, had 586 graduates walk the stage to receive their diploma.
The class had 248 honor grads, and their most common school choices include a majority of the University of California campuses, the University of Southern California, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Pomona, and San Diego State University. Out-of-state schools include the University of Oregon, Brigham Young University, the University of Colorado and Boise State University.
During his speech, Principal Mark Crawford noted how this graduating class was special to him in that he saw them go through some of the worst times in their lives, and yet still persevere with confidence.
“I see in this Class of 2021 young people that can inspire themselves and others,” said Crawford. “You are capable of so much. I cannot wait to see what you inspire in our community and our world.”
Before handing out the diplomas to the rest of the Class of ’21, Crawford took a moment to highlight Eyob Anbessaw, a senior class student who died in December of last year. The principal, during an emotional speech, described Anbessaw as someone who was a “ray of light in some very bleak days.”
“He was a young man who always put others first, before himself, always asked others how they were — and he really wanted to know,” said Crawford. “He wanted to make sure that everyone else was OK before he worried about himself.”
Crawford would then invite Anbessaw’s parents to the stage to accept their son’s diploma on his behalf, making their son’s diploma the first to be distributed for the night.
Tristan Rogers, the first class speaker for West Ranch High School, said that during an unprecedented pandemic, where historical events and tragedies seemed to be a regular occurrence, he described his school body as “a community of people that support one another and drive each other.”
In keeping with that tradition of pushing one another to achieve more, Rogers said he was likely not alone in feeling “tired” of the current state of the world, and urged his classmates to go out and do something about it.
“My entire life I have struggled with waiting; ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ has been one of my greatest enemies. But I can’t wait for my life to begin anymore. None of us can,” said Rogers. “Don’t wait until tomorrow to live your dreams. Get up and do it today.”
Rogers’ fellow senior speaker, Camille Blanco, who was also named co-valedictorian alongside classmate Steve Lee, kept with the theme of urging her fellow graduates to take action.
“Will we be afraid? Of course. Will we go forward anyway? You bet,” said Blanco. “Whatever storms may come, it is up to us, each and every single one of us, to make a difference in our world. And we will.”