The energy soared Friday night as 234 Churchill County High School seniors walked across the stage to accept their diplomas.
Valedictorian Paolo Narag and salutatorian Garrett Kalt addressed graduates and attendees followed by the keynote speaker, Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Yet, emotional comments from Narag and Kalt about one of their classmates may be remembered more than the lessons described in their respective speeches.
Both Narag and Kalt recognized Liz Archuleta who has shown strength and has kept a positive attitude after suffering a stroke in 2011. Narag and Kalt talked about how Archuleta faced her struggles head on with a smile on her face.
“She tirelessly fought back mentally and physically from this medical setback,” Kalt said. “It has been a long and painful process for her and her family. She never quit. It is a blessing that she recovered from this accident and returned to school this past fall. And you know what, Liz Archelta returned with her warm smile … Liz is an example to all of us. She overcame this adversity with a good attitude and is sitting with our class tonight.”
Narag also engaged the crowed by making jokes about his ability to deliver a serious speech.
“For the past four years, I have dreamed about this moment,” Narag said. “It’s not exactly what I dreamed of. First of all ... you’re all fully clothed, and I am so grateful for that. Even though the dream and this moment aren’t exactly the same, the emotions are and are even better. I cannot explain the mix of excitement and nervousness I have at this moment. Speaking in front of the people that motivated and influenced me is a wonderful feeling.”
Narag encouraged his fellow graduates with quotes from famous musicians.
“In the words of the great rapper and philosopher ... 2 Chainz ...‘I’m different... yeah I’m different’. We’re all different,” Narag said. “We all have our own dreams and what we want to be: lawyers, journalists, professional athletes, doctors (yes I’m talking to the Asian kids … I’m one of you, too.) No matter what your dream is, don’t be afraid and do it for yourself. Be like 2 Chainz and be different. If Miley Cyrus can walk on stage dressed like a frozen chicken ... you can step out of your boundaries and accomplish what you want. ‘Go Beyond Your Abilities’ — Garrett Kalt that one was for you.”
Kalt also had the crowd drawn to his words.
“The class of 2014 has had an awesome high school career. We have enjoyed a significant level of success in the classroom, on stage in drama, music, and choir and in athletics,” Kalt said. “CCHS has been my second home, and this opportunity has been the highlight of my high school career. Growing up in this community has been a blessing and my four years of high school have been outstanding. I hope that I was able to leave a legacy of compassionate leadership and increased school spirit at CCHS.”
Kalt said as CCHS Student Body president, he has been humbled and moved by the support, the results and impact that motivated high school students can have in their school, community, state, country and world. He said he’s honored and proud to have been in a leadership role.
“Working together by sharing values, ambition, service, and goals, we went beyond our abilities and left our legacy at CCHS and made it a better place,” Kalt said.
Sandoval said he was honored to return to CCHS and address the graduates since Fallon was once his home in the late 1960s.
“You have the opportunity to make a real impact in your life and the life of others, but it will take hard work and sacrifice,” Sandoval said. “As you move into the next chapter of your life, remember it is about effort and tenacity, but it’s also who you have around you and perceptions, unfair or not that people have about you.”
Sandoval continued his address with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln.
“Lincoln said work, work, work ... that’s the main thing and others have said anything that comes easy isn’t worth a dime,” Sandoval said. “Still other have said that many things will be out of your control and you will find this as you go forward but the fact is that you can out work anybody and that’s a gift that belongs only to you.”
The district also recognized the Honor School graduates which included the following: Josie Bekiares, Robert Davis, Erik Endacott, Natasia Ford, Emma Joyner, Garrett Kalt, Zachary Keener, Hannah Lindsay, Anna Lynch, Megan Maronde, Monica Mills, Jacob Moulton, Paolo Narag, Breanna Paras, Hannah Perazzo, Rileigh Ricken, Nathan Schank, Mary Scholz, Simon VanderStoel and Victoria Ward.