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San Luis Obispo County students commence with the future

Paso Robles High School commencement.
Photo by Joe Johnston 06-11-10
Paso Robles High School commencement. Photo by Joe Johnston 06-11-10 Tribune

It was another day of pomp and circumstance Friday as graduates at three San Luis Obispo County high schools donned caps and gowns and took triumphant steps into adulthood.

Nipomo High School graduates sought to assure anxious parents that they were ready to leave home. At Paso Robles High School, students celebrated the cultural milestones that united them as they grew from freshmen to seniors.

Elsewhere in the South County, valedictorian Josiah Loomis and salutatorian David Llamas joined their classmates as they graduated from Coastal Christian School in Arroyo Grande.

Nipomo High School

The hundreds of supporters who filled Nipomo High School’s bleachers and lined its football field were greeted before the ceremony by audio recordings of thanks from individual graduates. “Dad, don’t worry,” played through loudspeakers. “I’ll always be your little princess.”

Two-hundred sixty-two graduates in red robes filed onto the field under clear, sunny skies and accompanied by air horns, cheers and the Nipomo High School Concert band.

Foreign language teacher Alejandra Lopez opened with a short message in Spanish.

“Know that what the graduates have achieved today has happened in large part through your efforts,” she said to the large crowd, which beneath bunches of balloons included a uniformed Marine, families waving hand-made signs, babies in strollers and a woman clutching a tiny Chihuahua puppy.

Before the ceremony, 18-year-old Josie Lantry described graduation day — after 12 years of schooling — as “unreal.”

Salutatorian Camille Castillo observed that most members of the class have known one another since elementary school in “small, little Nipomo,” and lauded their accomplishments. For increasing the school’s average test scores, having a strong Robotics team and winning powder puff football games, she called her class “the perfect 10.”

Co-valedictorians and twin sisters Bethany and Kathryn Fugate took turns in a shared speech dedicated to their classmates, even “to all of you who don’t know which one of us is speaking right now,” one said to the laughter of the crowd.

“Let this be the first day of something great,” one said, and they finished in unison: “Always remember that you are a Titan.”

Paso Robles High School

Four years of high school have entailed fearing seniors as freshmen, learning how to send text messages without getting caught, listening to Lady Gaga and growing a few inches, one of two Paso Robles High School valedictorians told her fellow graduating seniors Friday.

“Together, we have made memories to last a lifetime,” Jessica Long told her classmates and thousands of friends and relatives in the audience at Flamson Middle School’s War Memorial Stadium.

 Walking mostly in groups of four, 389 seniors passed through a gauntlet of 20 American flags as the high school band performed “Pomp and Circumstance.” While the flags waved steadily in the wind, many in the crowd clamored for the few shady spots available, though the shade spread as the ceremony continued.

 As the graduating seniors sat in their crimson robes, principal Randall Nelson reminded seniors that no matter where they end up, “You will always be a Bearcat.”

Before the valedictorians spoke, senior Kelsey Kosin performed “Remember Me 2010,” a song she wrote about the school year.

Long’s speech reflected much on the cultural influences of their school years, which saw students introduced to MySpace, Facebook, Lady Gaga and Pokemon.

“It looks like ‘High School Musical’ and ‘Hannah Montana’ are finally over,” she said, adding that new favorites, such as Justin Bieber, will take their places.

Just like the “High School Musical” series, the students from Paso Robles High School will move on. Co-valedictorian Steven Plescia spoke of the different paths each student will take after graduation.

“Each one of us has a future filled with accomplishments,” he said.

Tribune staff writers Patrick S. Pemberton and Julia Hickey contributed to this story.

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