Family members, friends and loved ones sat waiting for a moment that they would never forget.
Members of Canyons News Network appeared on the jumbo screens, welcoming and congratulating the class. Each student, or groups of students, who popped up on the screen did so in a different language, including Spanish, French and American Sign Language.
Canyon High School students entered, walking in a line wearing green and white robes down the sides of College of the Canyons track Tuesday.
Students waved to their loved ones in the crowd cheering for them.
“Taylor! Aiden! Jose!” cheered a few of the audience members.
The graduation classic of “Pomp and Circumstance,” performed by the senior members of Canyon band and directed by Mark de la Vega, accompanied the students every step of the way until they stood in front of their seats.
“Pomp and Circumstance,” shifted to a performance of the national anthem by the senior member of Canyon’s choir, directed by Kelly Casewell.
As the roaring applause and cheers began to lessen, Shellie Holcombe, principal of Canyon High School, took to the stage.
“I would like to remind you the incredible journey that each one of you have been on,” said Holcombe. “You have persevered through challenges, overcome obstacles, demonstrated the words determination and resilience, that is truly inspiring.”
In recognition of the long journey the students have been on, Holcombe gave the students an opportunity to stand and applaud their loved ones for the support that they have given in the last four years.
“I just want to thank my mom, dad and sister for always being there for me,” said student Brooke Danielle McCormick in a video playing at the graduation.
Holcombe spoke to all that the students have accomplished in their high school careers and the qualities they exemplified as their time as Cowboys.
“It is important to recognize that your success did not come without hard work, dedication and a willingness to push through tough times,” said Holcombe.
Following Holcombe was the valedictorian, or “top Cowboy,” Zoya Alam.
Alam ripped up a printout of her speech, meant to signify she was speaking from her heart.
“Our four years might not have been the journey that you imagined initially,” said Alam. “It might not have even been the ‘High School Musical’ that you might have pictured, right? But what it is, is our success story.”
Alam created a wave of applause as she asked for students who are attending COC in the fall, then those attending UCs, then those attending CSUs to clap, and eventually everyone clapped as a testimony to their success.
“All of us are destined to do great things,” said Alam. “Clap for yourself because you deserve it this year.”
Alam and then the salutatorian, Pablo Rodriguez, both talked about firsts for their high school experience.
They expected first dances, first exams, first club meetings, she said. What they hadn’t expected was firsts that included a school shooting and a pandemic.
“There’s no other way to say our class’s experience, as I think you guys can agree, has been unique,” said Rodriguez.
Nonetheless, they persevered.
“These four years have been full of firsts, both expected and unexpected, and the future will continue to bring firsts, both expected and unexpected,” said Rodriguez. “But whatever happens? We have made it through worse.
“Remember these four years and how we have persevered to become who we are today. Remember to communicate with those you love. Remember not to quit just because something is difficult at the moment. Remember to surround yourself with people who you don’t really enjoy being with so that push you can push yourself to be the best version of yourself. Remember the resilience we show this year in the last four years and the strength that we all have class of 2023 I’m excited to see where the future takes us.”