Seniors bid farewell to Dayton High |

Seniors bid farewell to Dayton High

Teri Vance

Salutatorian William Fitch congratulated his fellow Dayton High School graduates during the commencement ceremony Thursday evening.

“We made it,” he said. “This is it.”

For some, the moment could not have come soon enough.

“It’s freaking exciting,” said Jacob Paterson, 18, who plans to attend Western Nevada College to become a mechanic. “I get to get out of this place. I just want to get on with my life.”

For others, some sadness mingled with anticipation.

“It’s bitter-sweet,” said Lucas Jones, 18. “We’re all ready to move on, but most of us have been here our whole lives. It’s all we know. It’s everyone we know.”

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For the 168 graduates, it marked the end.

“It’s four years of memories that are going to be just memories,” said 18-year-old Chyanne Corley.

Commencement speaker Mark Gradillas reminded them it also marked a fresh start.

“You are finishing one chapter, but beginning the next,” he said. “Follow your dreams and aspirations. Never give up on them. Dare to be who you want to be.”

Gradillas, now an assistant principal at Yerington Intermediate School, met most of the graduates as their kindergarten music teacher in 1999, and continued to teach them music throughout elementary school. He said he was honored to have been chosen by student vote to speak at commencement.

“We had some good times, and we had some fun times,” he said. “Here you are 13 years later, ready to graduate.”

He offered them some advice.

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” he said. “The true measure of character and determination is picking yourself up at least one more time than the number of times you fall down.”

Valedictorian Joshua Boga promised to keep his speech short.

He reminded students of the times they’d shared, both inside and outside of the classroom.

“All those afternoons you spent with your friends, avoiding your parents, doing absolutely nothing productive, those are the times you’re going to remember,” he said. “You will never forget the little things.”

To conclude, he asked students to stand. He directed them to take a step to the right, then a step to the left. “Now, you can’t say my speech didn’t move you. Good night.”

Principal Tim Logan said he will miss his inaugural group of seniors in his first year on the job.

“They’ve been good to me,” he said. They’ve got good leadership in the class, which has been helpful. It’s a moment to celebrate.”

Race Shelton, 18, said he was a bit nervous to join the Army in two weeks. He’d do high school all over again if he could – with a couple of modifications.

“I don’t want high school to end,” he said. “If I could just come to high school without the classes, that would be awesome.”