Entering Cougar Stadium in a sea of blue and gold, splattered with a range of color, West Ranch High School seniors walked toward one of the final moments of their high school careers – graduation.
Before the evening celebrations, Principal Mark Crawford asked for a moment of silence for the 21 lives lost in the shooting Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
“We turn our hearts for the community of people in Uvalde, Texas,” Crawford said, then added, apparently alluding to the 2019 shooting that took the lives of two students and the shooter at Saugus High School: “Given our own experience of grief and loss here in the Santa Clarita Valley, we recognize that there are families whose lives have now been changed forever.”
West Ranch High School then welcomed families and friends of the graduating class of 2022 at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium. The graduation ceremony kicked off with West Ranch’s symphony orchestra playing “Pomp and Circumstance.”
“To culminate with this achievement, it is not just students who are in front of us tonight,” Crawford said. “To the parents, families and friends in the stands tonight, the love, support and guidance you give your students have enabled them to be here tonight.”
Crawford also thanked the faculty and staff for the contributions they made for each graduate and their families. He then turned and addressed the graduating class.
“To the seniors of 2022, you all started less than four years ago on campus and then had to go to class online,” Crawford said. “And you all persevered through all of this.”
Crawford said he hopes the graduates will look back on their high school years with nostalgia and happiness.
“But I also want you to move forward. You have so much in front of you,” Crawford said. “This class will be attending over 200 different colleges and universities, various branches of the armed services and those immediately joining the workforce.”
“All of you together represent an amazing collection of skills and knowledge that make a positive difference. So, the challenge I put forward for you today is using those skills and knowledge to better not only yourselves, but the lives of those in your community.”
Emily Yoon, one of two senior class speakers, took the mic and addressed her peers:
“…And yet today, as I look out at this extraordinary class, I see people who have devoted their four years of high school to creative, intellectual and athletic journeys with courage,” Yoon said. “I have full confidence that throughout our lives we will use our skills to give our communities and show the world that being a Wildcat is about thinking in new ways and creating new environments with a humble heart and open ears, and always giving 110%.”
Christopher Goode, father of West Ranch senior Christopher Goode Jr., reflected pride and joy that could be seen in faces of parents, friends and families, who were there to watch their graduates receive their diplomas.
“It’s exciting,” Goode said. “We’re so glad to see him achieve success in high school, get his diploma and go forward in life to be more successful.”
Assistant Principal Ben Wobrock said hosting a graduation ceremony is a way for the students and their families to celebrate all their hard work that they’ve done in the last four years.
“After a full year of coming back from COVID and all the challenges that we’ve had to overcome in the last two years, this feels great,” Wobrock said. “Last year, we got to do something, but this year we’re back to normal.”
Finally, the moment came as 601 graduates walked across the stage and received their diplomas.
“Let us remember that whenever tough situations come, we have the skill set to adapt and overcome… as we take these next steps into our future, we can feel prepared,” said Tyler Walters, senior class speaker. “We are the Wildcats.”