Bittersweet day |

Bittersweet day

A sea of cobalt blue caps inundated Hooper Stadium Saturday at the Nevada Union High School graduation ceremony.

As the seniors paraded to their seating area in the middle of the field, bright sunlit faces cheered from the bleachers. A JumboTron – a large LCD screen – stood on one side of the field, giving spectators a closer look at the stage.

Valedictorian Philip Jackson – who recently received a certificate and a trophy from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his academic achievements – congratulated his peers for being among the world’s minority who have a high school diploma. He also lauded fellow students for their extra-curricular activities.

“Fifty percent of Nevada Union students are engaged in some kind of artistic expression on campus,” he said. “Phenomenal athletes walk the corridors” of the school.

Jackson urged the graduating class to assert their impact on the world by registering to vote.

“People our age could be the deciding factor in the upcoming election,” he said.

Emily Allardyce, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County and a 1997 NU graduate, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

“Whatever you do, wherever you go, stay true to the values you learned here,” she said. “Each of you are writing your own life. Graduating is all about starting a new chapter.”

Allardyce emphasized the need to strike a balance between work and family in one’s life.

“Many young people equate success with making a lot of money,” she said. “But happiness and success is really based on that fine balance between family, friends, careers and a strong sense of identity.”

The ceremony that involved nearly 550 seniors left some of them dazed with mixed feelings.

“It doesn’t feel like the last day of school,” Elle Velasquez said. “I’m not happy or sad or excited. I know I should have emotions, but it hasn’t set in as yet.”

Velasquez is going to University of California at Davis to major in human development, she said.

“I’m really excited to move on and work on my career,” Matt Morse said. “I’ve been taking piloting classes throughout my senior year. I’m about to get my private pilot license from Alpine Aviation at the Nevada County Airport.”

Morse said he’s going to Yuba College and will then transfer to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona.

For some parents, watching their children leave their school years behind was an emotional experience.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Joy Elliott, mother of Jessica Sandiforth. “I can still picture her as a baby but she has far exceeded my expectations as a woman. There’s few words to express how proud I am.”

“This is really touching for me,” said JorgeSoumitro Sen 6/7/08 that’s how he spelled his name out for me Velasquez, father of Elle Velasquez. “You bring your children to kindergarten and this is the end of that whole era.”

As reported in Saturday’s edition of The Union, the Bear River graduation occurred Friday, drawing a large crowd.

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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