Rachel Nicholls used her time on stage Saturday as one of Southridge High’s six valedictorians to capture one of the last moments the 332 graduating seniors would spend together.
Turning her back to her classmates, she held out her cell phone and took one last selfie of her and the entire class.
Social media was the theme for the class leaders’ speeches at the graduation ceremony in the Toyota Center, and Nicholls had a message to go with the photo she had ready to post to Instagram.
“The greatest lesson I hope we all learned is how to be ourselves,” she said. “That’s the version of you that will get the most ‘likes.’”
Co-valedictorian Chloe Tanega shared tweets her classmates had sent. From “Honestly bummed that high school is ending” to “Wasn’t I just a freshman yesterday?” and the one she was ready to send “Congratulations Class of 2015: We did it!”
Another valedictorian, Gavin Gervais, joked that as he looked out at his classmates, “This is the first time I have seen some of you without a Dutch Bros in your hand.”
The class has created bonds that cross cultural and language barriers, he said.
“We have taught each other to not ever settle for anything less than we deserve,” he said.
Some class members are heading to college, others to the military and some to new jobs, said co-valedictorian Nicole Edwards.
“But there is one thing that will never change,” she said. “We will always be the Southridge Class of 2015.”
Other valedictorians were Michaela McCune and Trenton Nett. Jaime Bjazevich was salutatorian.