Sierra Lutheran High School head of school Patrick Maynard, right, presents the Class of 2023 Saturday after graduates receive their diplomas.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.
Five Sierra Lutheran High School valedictorians happily acknowledged Saturday they wouldn’t have crossed the stage in success without the other, and they all urged their peers to do the same for anyone else they might impact on in their journey after graduating.
“It’s honestly kind of a surreal experience,” valedictorian Sandra Denney said. “I’ve had such support here getting to know the teachers and getting to know the other students, especially my fellow valedictorians. I was kind of shocked my sophomore year I was in the running, so it was like, ‘Oh, now I’ve got to up my game.’ ”
They all insisted it was never about competition even if it did help make them accountable in their personal academics.
“A lot of people are very competitive when it comes to their academics, but we’re also helping each other out,” valedictorian Sarah Thomas said. “We just build off each other so well.”
Hayden Steyn, the gentleman amongst the group of ladies, asserted he was successful because of his peers.
“I don’t think I would have tried so hard if the other four weren’t there,” he said.
The school celebrated this year’s cohort of 31 Falcons during its 19th commencement and sending off students with plans to attend local schools including University of Nevada, Reno, Western Nevada College, Truckee Meadows Community College, the Sierra Academy of Style or beyond. Others have intentions to study at Grand Canyon University, Texas A&M, the University of Southern Mississippi, Colorado State University and SLHS has its first graduate who will attend the U.S. Naval Academy.
Dr. Tami Seddon, Sierra Lutheran’s director of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, was chosen by the Falcons to be their graduation speaker and preferred to use a demonstration to drive home her word of the day for graduates as she defined “resonance.” Showing two tuning forks at the pulpit, Seddon said hitting the two together at 256 hertz causes them to vibrate and creating an experience of resonance.
“If you view God as your ultimate tuning fork, His will should resonate in you when you are abiding in Him,” she said. “…He has made you unique. There has never been anyone like you nor will there ever be anyone like you.”
Thomas, who appeared on stage barefoot to give her speech as a valedictorian, said going shoeless “helps me feel more connected to nature and reminds me to stay connected to the important things in life,” such as friends, family and faith.
Following tradition, the senior class officers presented a gift to the school, announcing they chose to dedicate the remainder of their fund, which amounted to about $2,000, to the school’s capital expansion project. Sierra Lutheran’s master plan calls for a 13,000-square-foot, multi-use building to be equipped with new classrooms, a science lab and an Academic Learning Center on the north side of the property to help the school accommodate at least 70 more students when completed.
Also keeping in tradition, graduates had an opportunity to present flowers to families as gifts of gratitude to loved ones for their support in Sierra Lutheran or beyond. Finally, graduates turned their tassels, and seniors were congratulated a final time.
“We have arrived at that bittersweet moment of ushering the Class of 2023 into the mission field,” Brian Underwood, head of mission outreach and development for Sierra Lutheran, said. “We love each and every one of these young people more than you can imagine. We thank you for trusting us with these kids for the last four years. They have been a true blessing.”