and#8216;This is not the end’: 160 Truckee seniors bid farewell to their high school careers | SierraSun.com

and#8216;This is not the end’: 160 Truckee seniors bid farewell to their high school careers

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

Jason Shueh/Sierra SunCo-valedictorian Natalie Cutler, wearing a Hawaiian lei, center, and co-valedictorian Annika Deurlington, in sunglasses, far right, raise their fists to the air to do the and#8220;Macarenaand#8221; dance as part of their valedictorian speech Saturday.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Standing in white cap and gown, Gabriela Garcia stood among her graduating Truckee High School classmates and, speaking in Spanish, expressed her enthusiasm for the future and encouraged her classmates to aspire for excellence.

and#8220;We close one time of life to open another … we will continue down the path because life doesn’t end here,and#8221; Garcia said.

Her speech, which emphasized, among other things, seeking to pursue professional success while remaining faithful to moral principals, carried a sense of optimism expressed by many during Saturday’s commencement.

The ceremony for the 166 graduating seniors began with an introduction by Principal David Putney, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem sung by Meredith Mattocks.

Bailey Le Clair, Senior Class vice-president, gave a welcoming speech in English, followed by Garcia’s opening remarks in Spanish.

Class President Samantha Safford gave the graduation acknowledgment speech, describing the 2011 class as the most and#8220;driven,and#8221; quoting Winston Churchill’s World War II speech given after an Allied victory in the battle of El Alamein, Egypt, in November 1942.

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and#8220;Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning,” said Safford, relating Churchill’s speech to graduation.

Though highlights abounded throughout, the speech given by co-valedictorians Natalie Cutler and Annika Deurlington was definitely the most visual, the two sending classmates into a spontaneous dancing burst of the and#8220;Macarenaand#8221; while also adding a few humorous anecdotes about procrastination.

Also of note was a speech by THS Instructional Coach Larry Leatherman, who urged students to acquire patience, passion and persistence.

Leatherman used personal heroes as examples of the three virtues.

Nobel Prize laureate in physiology or medicine, Gertrude Elion, was used as an example of patience, as she developed her research on cancer cells; Ben Carson was used as an example of passion, him being the first neurosurgeon to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head; and finally World War II survivor Louis Zamperini exemplified persistence when he endured life in Japanese prison camp, Leatherman said, later to return to Japan as an Olympic torch bearer during the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano.

Leatherman said the graduates represented a class of people uniquely capable to seek out and help others.

Check out a full photo gallery from Saturday’s commencement on the Sun’s Facebook page. Just go to http://www.facebook.com and search for “Sierrasun.com.”

And look to the web later this week and in Friday’s print edition for coverage of the 2011 North Tahoe High School graduation ceremony, which takes place Tuesday afternoon in Tahoe City.