After four years of late night studying and class projects, Dayton High School’s Class of 2017 reached the finish line Thursday night, with 139 students graduating in caps and gowns.
Families and friends of each Dust Devil gathered at the high school’s football field for the ceremony, decked out in maroon and white.
“We’ve all made a lot of great relationships,” said honors graduate Jonathan Torres Garcia, who’s attending the University of Nevada, Reno to pursue a career in medical engineering. “We can be the best that we can be.
According to Principal Steve Henderson, 39 seniors are currently qualified for the Millennium Scholarship, totaling $400,000.
Spanish Instructor Julie Lozada Ocampo traditionally presents the commencement address but after 30 years of teaching, the Class of 2017 was her last before her retirement.
But as technology continues to advance, Ocampo expressed the importance of creativity and human interaction, and encouraged students to live a life beyond a virtual reality.
“Creativity is vital to reinvention,” she said. “My intent is not to burn you out but rather to encourage you to think clearly moving forward. You’re starting your career while I’m ending mine, and that is my advice.”
However, Ocampo also encouraged students to use social media and technology as an opportunity to connect with others.
“We don’t know what the job market is going to look like in 20 or 30 years,” she said. “But focus on what’s here now.”
Many students are looking to the future, such as Laurel Hunt, who was the 2017 Vice President of Class Officer, and completed the Jump Start program at Western Nevada College.
She plans to attend UNR’s School of Arts and become an illustrator.
“But in case this is the last time I see them, I am so grateful of my teachers and the friends I’ve made,” she said.
Cameron George received two scholarships and is putting them toward her dual major of political science and Spanish at Boise State University.
“Tonight signifies the hard work and effort I put into my school,” she said. “I wanted to make the school cohesive in its honor society and student council programs. It’s a great feeling to do so much and then get recognition for it.”
As for Class Valedictorian Oakley Workman — whom also completed the Jump Start program with an honors diploma — he said his status as the top of the class was due to his classmates.
“My classmates are just as worthy of this honor,” he said. “We all have each other’s backs and I’m grateful for it.”
Salutatorian Jared Logan quoted many familiar film lines in his speech, such as Yoda’s “Do or do not, there is no try,” from Star Wars.
But he depicted each quote and explained the meanings behind them.
“You need to be motivated,” he said. “Either you go for your goals or you don’t. It’s great to see the hard work everyone has pushed through over the years.”
Logan and Workman will be serving in missions for Church of Latter-day Saints, and will be attending Brigham Young University in the following years.
Today is the official last day for other classes at Dayton High School, with Class of 2018 moving up from juniors to seniors.