Tri-Cities Prep seniors in blue and gold danced, chatted and took “selfies” Saturday as they waited to celebrate four years of hard work.
Before lining up to enter the Grant Activity Center where family and friends waited to cheer them on, the soon-to-be 47 graduates gathered in a circle, bowed their heads and prayed for their futures as they move on to adulthood.
Prayers began and ended the graduation ceremony at the Pasco Catholic high school. And the element of fun continued, with graduates Kelly Smith and Katherine Virden pausing at the beginning of their speech to take a selfie with a cell phone before reflecting on the last four years at Tri-Cities Prep.
Their freshman class, at 60 kids, was the biggest freshman class the high school had seen, Virden said.
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Valedictorian Joseph Ghirardo said the talents and gifts of the class of 2014 will help change the world, whether they become doctors, scientists, teachers, lawyers or parents.
“It’s important to make the most of our talents and leave a legacy for ourselves,” he said.
Valedictorian Yvonne Lumetta pulled her graduation speech out of her cap and proceeded to recite a poem starting with “Twas the night before graduation.”
“Our knowledge will help us take over the world,” she said.
Colleges the graduates plan to attend include the University of Notre Dame, The Catholic University of America, Washington State University, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the University of West Georgia, to name a few.
The 47 seniors together received $4.3 million in scholarships.
Both Lumetta and Ghirardo earned a 4.0 GPA, and did it by taking difficult classes including four years of Spanish and math through Calculus, said Brett Powers, Tri-Cities Prep dean of academics.
Salutatorian David Sherwood not only earned a GPA of 3.95, he also was active with cross country and mock trial, Powers said.
The award of excellence was given to Lumetta. Graduate Catherine Jacobs was honored with the leadership award and graduate Martha Robles was honored for her service to the school and community.
The spirit award, chosen by the seniors, went to Virden.
The Founders Award was given to Spencer and Jane Jilek in recognition of their continuing contributions to Tri-Cities Prep. “It’s almost like their kids are still here,” Jones said.
Principal Arlene Jones encouraged the graduates to continue to live with character, confidence and compassion. “There is a softness in your hearts for others that is not a weakness,” Jones said.
Make sure to learn from personal experience, she said. Not all battles need to be fought. “Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing,” she said.
And she told the graduates to not let technology prevent them from being present with friends, family and loved ones.
“Make sure you fall in love with the person and not a text message,” Jones said.
After the diplomas were handed to each graduate and the last prayer said, the graduates marched out to the Star Wars theme song.