Students at Columbia Burbank’s high school graduation Friday danced, sang and took time to remember classmates who didn’t make it.
The 64 graduates entered the gymnasium two by two, with students walking down opposite sides of the basketball court, meeting in the middle and approaching the stage together.
Each was holding purple and yellow flowers, which they later took into the audience to hand to people who influenced them.
Friends of Justin Savage and Zachary Morrison took time to recall their favorite memories of the students who died in 2012. They also made a presentation to their families.
Savage died in his sleep at 16 in June of that year, while Morrison, who suffered from a heart condition, died at 15 in December.
“Although they may not be able to walk across the stage with us today, I have no doubt they are sitting here among us,” Salutatorian Madison Johnson said.
The night was hardly somber though. Jennifer Contreras took the stage with an acoustic guitar and serenaded her classmates with a version of the White Stripes’ We’re Going to be Friends. The seniors then stood up and clapped to the music while Contreras played La Bamba.
McKenzie Small, one of 21 seniors to attend Columbia schools since kindergarten, then told a story and gave a lesson to come from it for each of the 13 years she went to school in Burbank. The stories included a planned playground “wedding” in the fourth grade, which was called off when the groom decided to play kickball, and one about friend Shaelyn Carlisle, who she said had crashed her car three times by the 10th grade.
Carlisle has gone on to become a “superstar” driver, Small said.
“You may not be the best at something, but, if you try, practice makes perfect,” Small said.
Principal Kyle Miller referenced Krispy Kreme, Ozzy Osbourne and “Crocodile Dundee” Paul Hogan in his speech, explaining the need to sometimes bite off more than you can chew, but to know when not to.
Valedictorian Essance Ray used a lesson learned during her time wrestling as a metaphor for taking time to rest while doing a job.