Graduation week kicks off in the Nevada Joint Union High School District |

Graduation week kicks off in the Nevada Joint Union High School District

It’s graduation week at schools throughout the Nevada Joint Union High School District. Beginning Wednesday and continuing through Saturday, students in the class of 2016 will don caps and gowns and accept their diplomas at graduation ceremonies at Ghidotti Early College, Silver Springs, Bear River and Nevada Union high schools.

The student speakers at those ceremonies submitted their speeches to The Union, affording readers a sneak peek at what they’ll hear this week. See excerpts below, and view the full speeches online at

Alex Junge, Ghidotti:

Freshmen year, we wanted to test the waters by dipping our toes into Ghidotti — and instead we were thrown right into the deep end of the pool. Together, we went around our new school exploring friendships, meeting our teachers and learning the meaning of cutting corners. We stumbled around from class to class, and tried to figure out what our schedules meant when there was a “Friday schedule on a minimum-day-Monday and an assembly” — admittedly something we and the future of Ghidotti still struggles with. Together we learned what “bing, bang, bongo” essays were; we learned that shape determines function; we learned that Mr. Mullenex held our grade in the palm of his hand. And together we quickly learned what it meant to be at Ghidotti and made ourselves at home.

Over the years, we drove our teachers insane and were constantly reprimanded for talking too loud, playing our music too loud and generally sending out an air of constant restlessness.

Together, we started each year with the first days of school when we were excited to see one another together after a summer apart. These quickly changed to the days when we were stressed because of a big test coming up. The days when we questioned our friendships — old and new. The days when the general greeting of “How are you?” changed to “Are you okay?”

And the extent of our togetherness surpassed days and became nights — whether that be nights doing homework until all hours; nights where we bonded by talking around campfires, in coffee shops, or playing Dungeons & Dragons; nights spent trying to watch every episode of “The Office” possible; late night phone calls or all-nighters spent talking with each other and bonding over new jokes. Together we navigated high school.

Just like any high school, some of our time at Ghidotti was spent positively and some negatively. I remember a particular day at the end of our sophomore year. This time was a sort-of low point for our class. There was a large amount of social pressures and we were losing a lot of students from our class. And we were not prepared for the amount of academics thrown at us on top of this. I remember we had a big essay in English, a 10-minute presentation in AVID, our first real six-page research paper, a large presentation in P.E, a stressful physics final and a lot of homework on top of it — all due in the course of a week. The weeks leading up to that and the week of were extremely stressful. But we did as our class does best and we persevered. And we came out of it stronger.

Throughout Ghidotti we had many similar experiences. They were not all academic experiences. Some were social, some had to do with extracurriculars and some were purely personal. We became closer as a class, and because of this, when something affected one person, it affected everybody. But when one of our collective pressures was lifted, we knew how to celebrate and find happiness in it. Our class has become a family and this means we are there for each other. Admittedly, there are times where we annoy each other and the weekend couldn’t come sooner — but in what family are all moments perfect? This atmosphere of unconditional support is undoubtedly my — and my classmates’ — favorite part about Ghidotti. Because we know what it feels like to be underneath the world at times, we are able to cherish the moments when we are on top of it so much more.

Not only are we together with each other, but with the lower classmen as well. When asked to help make Ghidotti better by telling the school where we succeeded and struggled during the years, we gave more than we were asked for. Instead of just complaining about this or that, we gave solutions. We thought of a plan to help students throughout their four years. We offered to create crash courses in how to be better organized or how to prioritize homework.

We have learned to find happiness in helping others. We know what it means to be stressed out, we know what it means to be happy and we know what it means to be kind. Mostly though, we know that being happy and being kind are very much intertwined. And that one must pursue kindness in order to find happiness. Already, we have started to do this, whether it is simply by participating in the togetherness of our class, in community service or by going out of our way to help others without being asked.

This is something that we will certainly be carrying on with in our future. This is ever-evident from watching our senior presentations two weeks ago. In many of the presentations there were common themes, one of which was helping others and the other was being happy. These two goals are ones that we collectively plan on pursing for the rest of our lives. And even though we are going off to our futures apart, it is together we will achieve this.

Brandon Stubbs, Ghidotti:

First of all, I would like to thank my arms for always being at my side, my legs for supporting me and lastly my fingers, because I could always count on them. But in all seriousness, I am very proud today to speak on behalf of the Ghidotti class of 2016.

3.3 million students are graduating high school this year. This means 35,000 other nerds are delivering sappy speeches about becoming adults and stepping off to the next chapter in this book we call life. But this nerd can tell you for certain that the Ghidotti class of 2016 is going somewhere. I’m not speaking to a student body of five hundred, where we all know Brock and Timmy are shooting spitballs in the back. No one here will consider being prom queen or sports captain the pinnacle of his or her life.

Instead, you are becoming translators, engineers, psychiatrists and nurses. A diploma from Ghidotti means each one of you has struggled, sacrificed hours of sleep and a little bit of sanity and ultimately overcome obstacles. You will use it and the experience it represents as a foundation for your future success. And I can’t wait for our reunion when I get to learn how you put the first human on Mars, where you got your inspiration for your best selling novel or what it is like being the leading cardiothoracic surgeon in the world.

But with all the excitement that accompanies this occasion is also a profound sadness. We all have to wear these terribly unfashionable hats — I mean, really, whose idea was it to put squares on our heads to celebrate this turning point in our lives? We all know triangles are far more suitable as party head wear. But something equally as sad: we are leaving Ghidotti and each other. At Ghidotti I have had the unique experience and pleasure of getting to know each of you. I am sincere when I say I will miss you all so much. But perhaps the most tragic fact of all, we are the last class that still holds the dear memory of Thrasher the Goatee. The fear he would strike into clueless little freshmen in the interview room will now fade out of knowledge and time. So cherish the memories of these four years, the good and the bad — I know I will. I suppose I better get off the stage before someone collapses from heat stroke, so I will conclude. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, “That’s my speech.”

Jessica Dent, Nevada Union:

We’re graduating! Woo-hoo! Four years of hard work and we finally made it! I know this day is supposedly all about us, but we also need to stop and take the time to thank everyone who helped us along the way. Thank you family, friends and teachers for being there for us and helping us get to this moment!

So I know I’ve personally had a fantastic experience here, but I also know some of you may disagree with me. But you’ve got to admit, there was something here you liked. Whether it was your art class, teammates or favorite teacher, something or someone made you want to come back even when the going got tough. Maybe it was your favorite parking spot or even just seeing your friends every day. Whatever it was, something caused each of us to return every day. Otherwise, we’d be somewhere else right now.

All right, pop quiz! (You thought you were done with those didn’t you?) The question that’s been on my mind recently is, what makes us all Miners? Sure, we’ve all got great legs from climbing all of those stairs, but it’s hard to sum up a whole school in a single definition. I think what really brings us together is our common experiences. We all had the joy of running the “fun run” in freshman P.E., and remember way back when we had open campus and went on trips to BriarPatch during lunch? Remember how, as a class, we won in Powderpuff two years in a row? Seniors do it back-to-back! Miners aren’t defined by a single description, but rather the culmination of the talents and strengths of this amazing group of individuals. Miners are artists, athletes, performers, musicians, activists, leaders and so much more. We have shown time and again our collective strength, like just this year when we came together to save the beautiful trees around this very stadium.

Over these four years we’ve grown up a lot, and as peach fuzz turned into actual beards, we’ve also learned a little bit, too. For example, we’ve all figured out that if there are already four answers of the same letter in a row on a Scantron, you should definitely not pick that same answer again. Unless, of course, it’s Molitor’s test on April Fools’ day (learned that the hard way).

Another thing we now know is that if you’re still not in class after the later bell rings, you might as well take your time since you’re already late. Oh, and of course we learned all those academic things too, like the Pythagorean theorem and the symbolism behind the green light in “The Great Gatsby.”

In our time here at NU, we’ve lost some of our own along the way. We will miss Mr. Zetterberg, Mitch Adams, and, of course, Jake Morales, who would be graduating alongside us today. These people have impacted many of our lives and remind us that life is precious. So carpe diem, folks, and cherish the memories you’ve made here. Around now is when I should say some deep, thoughtful quote, so I thought I’d use one of my favorites, from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

It might not seem like it now, but high school is just a short chapter in our lives, and, phew, it flew by fast! We may be going our separate ways, but we will all remember our roots as we take on the world. Congratulations class of 2016!! And as always, Go Miners!

Laurel Evans, Nevada Union:

This is 2016, and we are officially no longer high school students. And we have lived these four years unlike any others in the history of our world. We have had access to more information about our world than any students that came before us, and more pressure than any generation before us.

Even though I am the one up here giving a speech, I know I am not the person here who has been through the most. I am not the one who has faced the most challenges. There are many others who have had to work harder, and deal with wrenching setbacks. Despite these challenges, I know many of these exceptional classmates with gratitude for what they have and a passion to make the world a better place every single day.

It’s easy to be pessimistic about our lots in life. We see that attitude everywhere, and it’s contagious. People on TV complain about everything and everyone. Politicians skewer each other every day, parents complain that their daughters don’t write their graduation speeches until the last minute, Harry Potter complains about the Dark Lord, you get the picture.

But what I have found in all of my admittedly limited years is that, despite its relative ease, pessimism gets you nowhere. While I don’t feel like I’m in any position to give life advice to my peers, now is our time to reflect on the beginnings of our lives and what the turning point of high school graduation will mean for us.

In a world where it’s so easy to see anger, some of that negativity is directed at us — our generation. Some say that young adults today don’t have the same strength or courage to take on the complex challenges of our world, much less resolve them. I believe that the negativity and pessimism that surrounds us will not bring us down. It will not define our generation. It will not define me. And I know that it will not define the Nevada Union class of 2016. We will surround ourselves with kindness. We will swim in optimism. We will take on challenges that no generation before us has seen, much less conquered. We will be a force of gratitude and an army of love. And while others are content to complain, and wallow in misery, we will smile and move on. I feel extremely lucky to have spent the past four years here with all of you. When looking to the future, I hope we can all look back and appreciate the school and town that made it all possible.

Thank you and congratulations to the Nevada Union class of 2016.

Megan Billingham, Bear River:

Wherever it is that you picture yourself going in the future, chances are that vision will change over time. And that’s okay. Grow. Adapt. Humans are not meant to be stagnant creatures. And do not only embrace change, create it. Look at yourself and your surroundings, recognize where improvements can be made and generate change.

We will enter the world at a time in which change is happening at the most rapid speed we have ever witnessed. But I think we’re ready. We’ve had some good practice.

Caitie Breazeale, Kim Wells, Kaitlyn Solomon, Melanie Jenkins, Bear River:

A wise man once said, “Life is like a slot canyon. It can be a long, bumpy road just to get started. There may be obstacles and some parts will make you want to quit. But once you see the beauty of what you’ve accomplished it will all be worth it.” Shout out to you Mr. Carrow!

So, to all of you, I want to say, don’t take life for granted. Be appreciative. Be positive. Be patient. Go that extra step. But most importantly, live in the moment.

We have come all this way together, and tonight we graduate high school. Think about it; right here, right now, is the last time the entire class of 2016 will be in the same place. For now, don’t keep your mind set on your upcoming years, whether it may be going to the college or university of your dreams or going straight into the workforce.

As our days together come to an end, we just want to say that this is the beginning of a new slot canyon. It’s your choice whether you want to turn around and quit halfway, or move on and battle all the way through. Whatever the outcome may be, we hope to see you all in the finish in 10 years.

Dawson Turiello, Silver Springs:

Good evening, my name is Dawson Turiello. Since February, I’ve been a proud graduate of Silver Springs High School.

When high school rolled around, I was a small, chunky kid and I was bullied. In my sophomore year, I started lifting weights and running. I got fit and thin. I felt I had more power, so nobody really picked on me anymore, and so that ended the bullying.

Then junior year came and they kicked me out of Nevada Union for not having enough credits, with no return in sight. I was a little worried, but then this amazing school called Silver Springs High School took me in as a junior, no matter how many credits behind I was.

They cared for me here, and helped me more than any school ever did. They focused on the positive, and Silver Springs was the first place where I had people I knew I could trust. Silver Springs took me places I never thought I’d go, like skiing at Squaw, and going to Giants games.

Silva helped me understand math. Mrs. Good helped me with history. Mrs. Haas helped me get a job. Lo-J helped me learn where to put commas and pass the CAHSEE. Drageset helped me with troubles at home. Fred helped me learn stability and mind and body concentration. Mrs. Wagner helped me accomplish so much to make up credits. And to Godwin who has the hardest job, and how easy he makes it seem, thank you Godwin. We couldn’t have done it without you. And finally, Julie, who became my friend from the start, and made me something better. Thank you all for believing in me and taking me under your wing and making me the person I was meant to be.

Randy was just awesome. Period. Thanks to Dana for helping with everything. And thanks to Marty for hiring the best staff ever.

The end of high school was amazing. It was a blast and being here was so fun. I actually wished I could stay longer. Thanks to everyone for making these last years the best years they can be.

Graduating was so important to me because I wanted to show my dad that I could do whatever it takes to be a part of his team, and work my tail off every day at work. And it’s important to me because I’m the first brother in my family to graduate high school.

I would like to congratulate the class of 2016. We worked hard and we accomplished school. Let’s all continue to show our school that we will succeed at anything life throws at us.

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