High school grads seize the day | SierraSun.com

High school grads seize the day

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunTruckee High School grads celebrate their graduation Saturday by throwing their caps in the air.

Dressed in caps and robes, Truckee and North Tahoe high school seniors in the last few days triumphantly crossed the most important threshold of their young lives.

While the traditional tune of Pomp and Circumstance played, more than 250 students from the two high schools crossed the stage in separate ceremonies, received their certificates of completion and shook hands with school administrators. And then they flung their caps in the air, signaling their graduation.

“It’s that time of year where they’re just excited to be done with high school,” said Senior Counselor Paul Christenson of Truckee High School.

North Tahoe High held its commencement on Thursday, Sierra High School on Friday, and Truckee High School on Saturday.

High school graduation symbolizes the end of childhood, Christenson said. It’s one of life’s significant landmarks, especially for students who’ve grown up in a small community where they’ve known each other since kindergarten, he said.

“The end of high school is like the end of an era,” Christenson said.

The student’s would agree.

“[Graduation] is really exciting; it’s a new journey,” said Truckee High School Valedictorian Jon Sturtevant. “I’m really ready to be in college, and be in an environment where people want to learn.”

Sturtevant was first in his class with a grade point average of 4.23. He took seven advanced placement classes and never received less than an A in his high school career. Sturtevant will attend the University of California at Berkeley this fall, exploring different subjects with an open mind, including English, math and theater, he said.

North Tahoe Valedictorian Kelsey Hudson will join Sturtevant as a freshman at UC Berkeley. This year, Hudson tied for first in North Tahoe’s senior class with Rebecca Dodge, giving the class two valedictorians. Both seniors earned grade point averages of 4.17.

Hudson said she will pursue the sciences, including neuroscience, at Berkeley. Dodge will attend classes at Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., where she plans to major in English education and Spanish, and minor in dance.

“I’m very, very excited; but it’s kind of mixed with sadness,” Dodge said.

All three valedictorians have long-standing roots in the Tahoe-Truckee area, an area that they said created many memories. Yet, they are ready to move ahead and seize the opportunities that life offers them.

“I’m really proud to be a part of the class of ‘007,” Hudson said. “We were the first class, at least in my high school experience, not saying, ‘we’re seniors, let’s get out of here.’ We stayed pretty optimistic throughout the whole year.”

North Tahoe Principal Bill Fry agreed. This year’s senior class from North Tahoe tolerated years of construction at their new school, two-thirds of which opened this year. The students showed tremendous pride in their classmates, teachers and the community, a trait that set them apart, Fry said.

“[The class of 2007] showed tremendous character because they were able to overcome all [the construction],” Fry said. “This class has changed the attitude about students at North Tahoe High School.”

Despite being one of the hardest years for college acceptances, more than 80 percent of Truckee and North Tahoe graduates are going off to seek higher education. The remaining students plan to embark on different paths toward work experience, traveling the globe, or joining the U.S. Marines or Air Force.

“Every letter that I got, whether it was an acceptance or rejection, said it was the biggest applicant pool they’ve ever seen, and the biggest qualified applicant pool,” Hudson said.

The University of California Web site said the school had received a record number of undergraduate applications, and accepted a record number of high school seniors. For both North Tahoe and Truckee high schools, 20 students will attend the top-tier University of California campuses, and more than 50 will attend California State University schools.

North Tahoe High School Principal Bill Fry said many North Tahoe seniors who were hesitant to pursue further education have decided to attend two-year community colleges or another form of education.

“We work real hard to get the kids to understand it’s really beneficial to go somewhere and learn,” Fry said.

College, however, isn’t the only option for graduates. A handful of students plan on traveling the world or participating in foreign exchange programs in Europe, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Turkey and Thailand, among the destinations.

“[The future] is going to be very interesting,” Sturtevant said. “I’m sure I’ll miss a lot of my friends, but I’ll make new ones, too. Life goes on.”

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