As Hanford High co-valedictorian Arill Bartrand prepared to stand before his 335 classmates Friday afternoon, the graduate was asked to share his views on life.
But Bartrand had to admit that was an unwise suggestion since he’s only been alive for 18 years.
So the 2012 senior gave the one piece of advice that he says has yielded substantial results: “Don’t get comfortable.”
Bartrand brought laughter to the Toyota Center as he recalled jumping into a lake to clean off during a hunting trip and his jeans suddenly disappearing. Nothing was more embarrassing than riding back to camp on a mule with a gun slung over his back and no pants on, Bartrand admitted.
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Bartrand thanked the educators who pushed students out of their comfort zones, and reminded his fellow graduates that whether they choose to party all night or sleep in late they must continue to strive.
He was joined on stage by five other valedictorians — Hannah Horner, Finn McMichael, Jiaqi Mei, Andrey Sushko and Nicole Umlauf. Salutatorian Colin Serkowski, who has stuttered since he first started to talk, instead rapped his speech as the crowd clapped along.
Longtime teacher and drama coach Matt Leggett drew cheers when he told the graduates it is “the very last day of your high school career, but the first day of the rest of your life.”
The future is like an open highway with a clear, blue sky, and the only potential road block to keep graduates from succeeding is ignorance, he said.
“It’s a green light, and let’s go,” said Leggett, adding that the magic hammer to defeat the enemy is their education.