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Sparks High grads announce they 'made it'
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jun 08, 2013 | 1734 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne -- Sparks High School graduate DJ Devine shakes hand with Washoe County School District Board of Trustee member Dave Aiazzi after accepting his diploma Saturday morning at Lawlor Events Center.
Tribune photo by John Byrne -- Sparks High School graduate DJ Devine shakes hand with Washoe County School District Board of Trustee member Dave Aiazzi after accepting his diploma Saturday morning at Lawlor Events Center.
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Tribune photo by John Byrne -- Sparks High School Principal Wanda Shakeenab, left, smiles as graduate Katelynn Vandever waves to the audience Saturday morning at Lawlor Events Center.
Tribune photo by John Byrne -- Sparks High School Principal Wanda Shakeenab, left, smiles as graduate Katelynn Vandever waves to the audience Saturday morning at Lawlor Events Center.
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SPARKS -- Energy was a key component Saturday morning as the Sparks High School Class of 2013 celebrated its day in the spotlight at Lawlor Events Center. Students continued with roaring cheers and wild applauses throughout the ceremony, which began with comments from class Salutatorian Jhamela Roscom.

The graduating senior said much has been overcome in the four years at Sparks High, and said the future may be filled with obstacles just as the past was.

“When I first walked through the Sparks High School doors I was terrified,” Roscom said. “I was terrified of falling, of failing. Then I realized that nothing I did could guarantee I wouldn’t fail.

“I might fall. I might fail, but I don’t have to let those fears haunt me. On this journey I learned that getting lost in the hallways is inevitable. I learned that failure is inevitable. But with the right attitude and persistence, I survived those failures and achieved my goals.” Roscom began, shedding tears midway through her remarks after telling her fellow classmates it was time for a new chapter in their lives.

She was met with a loud applause from her class and the audience who pushed her through to her Beatles-themed ending.

“We can learn to find support within ourselves,” Roscom said. “Sometimes we have to let it be. We will succumb to failure, but hopefully you can learn from it. Let the failures be and grow from it. “I think it’s safe to end this speech with a song that you all know: (singing) ‘When you find yourself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom. Let it be.’”

The musical entertainment continued as the Sparks High band and orchestra played “Viva la Vida” followed by a vocal performance from the Sparks High choir singing “Smile.”

As class Valedictorian Vicente Gapuz took the podium, he related his troubles learning the english language and finding his voice to he and his classmates’ journey through Sparks High. He said the first school assembly where the class remained silent was an example of how the class has grown through four years. “I understand that our struggles and our joys have led us to this moment,” Gapuz said.

“Our challenges have brought experiences which have defined us, carved our characters and our voices.”

The graduates seated below Gapuz began chanting “I made it” along with his speech as he ventured to guess that each one of his classmates had overcome similar obstacles as him.

“I am sure every one of you has had obstacles that could have kept you from this moment and kept you from being able to say I made it,” Gapuz said. “When we are faced with an obstacles, we shouldn’t shy away from moving on forward and achieving our goals. We should see them as opportunities to challenge ourselves to grow from them.

“That challenge is just a new adventure for us to strengthen our weaknesses. We have proven this morning that we are each able to say loudly, I made it. As Railroaders we are resilient to get back up and continue pushing forward.”

Sparks High Principal Wanda Shakeenab took the stage after a video presentation displayed several memories and baby pictures of the graduating class. Shakeenab challenged her former students to take notes on some of the advice she was about to give, jokingly saying “school is not over yet.”

“Though you believe you have just experienced the battle of a lifetime, mark my words when I say you haven’t seen anything yet,” Shakeenab said. “You will experience many battles along the way, but you must turn the wounds of battle into wisdom and apply that wisdom in your next battle.

“I challenge you to apply wisdom in your daily living. Write that down. Remember that we all make mistakes and what our critics consider failures, but the truth of the matter is that what critics call your failure is just an experience to help you guide you in the right direction.”
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