The students sitting on College of the Canyons’ football field Wednesday were stepping onto West Ranch High School’s campus and stepping into their new role as a Wildcats just four years ago.
Wednesday may have marked their graduation from West Ranch, but as student Shefali Breitbach quoted “High School Musical” character Troy Bolton, “Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.”
West Ranch students made their way to their seats, wearing gold and blue robes, white shawls, gold cords, navy blue cords, white cords and blue and gold cords, all representing different academic achievements.
Gold robes represented those who achieved honor scholar status.
Out of the graduating class of 496 students, 286 students graduated with a GPA of 3.75 or above and 220 of them graduated with a GPA of 4.0 or above.
“This senior class hasn’t given up and as a result has succeeded and accomplished so much in the last four years,” said Robert Fisher, West Ranch principal.
In a sea of graduation caps, attendees got a glimpse into their futures, with some reading “UCLA,” “USC,” “Cal (UC Berkeley),” and the logo for the U.S. Navy.
“No matter where our paths lead, we all started as Wildcats,” said student Victoria Serragiotto.
The ceremony marked the first graduation ceremony as principal at West Ranch for Fisher.
“This day is a special day for all of us,” he said. “For you as graduates and for me watching, you are my first graduating class at West Ranch. We went through the year working together, trusting together and growing together.”
Fisher, senior class speakers Jo Jojo and Carys Hay all reflected on their time as Wildcats.
The lessons they learned went past what they learned in just a classroom as high school students who slowly stepped into their identities.
“Our time at West Ranch has taught us so so much more than just like Pythagorean theorem, or the Periodic Table, or how a²+b²=c ² is going to be crucial for all our lives,” said Jojo. “The most important lesson West Ranch has offered us, is the foundation of good character, a character of camaraderie, ambition and perseverance.”
Students went through school dreading the question of “What do you want to be when growing up?” because they were still trying to find out who they are.
Who they are became more prominent in their lives than what they wanted to do.
“I challenge us as graduates and West Ranch Wildcats to reframe our mindsets. Instead of thinking what you want to be, imagine who you want to be,” said Hay.
“What I’ve realized is the best memories I have are things I can’t put on my resume,” said Hay. “They weren’t the AP test I painstakingly studied for, or the hours I used Quizlet to do my homework — they are the experiences I shared with my classmates. These memories frame our future plans and identities around who we are instead of allowing it to be defined by our accomplishments or by a career.”
The West Ranch graduating class of 2023 may still have a journey of self-discovery ahead of them, but one thing that will always be a part of their identity – they are Wildcats.