DEVORE After Wednesday night, nothing would be the same for the hundreds of Hesperia High School seniors gathered at San Manuel Amphitheater and they knew it.


Former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said "a mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions," Valedictorian Alexandria McCollum told the audience at the school's graduation ceremony. "Once you experience something, it becomes a part of you."


It was the 27th such ceremony for Hesperia High School and the theme of the night was the transformative nature of the past four years.


"I'm a firm believer that people are a product of their environment," senior class speaker Gokul Veedu said. "Our time at Hesperia High School has shaped us in ways we may never understand."


Four hundred and sixty-four Scorpions graduated during a breezy night in Devore.


"The people we were four years ago were vastly different from the people we are now," McCollum said. "Class of 2012, our future awaits."


Robert Wiley underwent one such transformation at Hesperia High. His freshman and sophomore years, he didn't care about school outside of football and by his own admission, was a bully who was failing out of school.


"I was all negative, all negative," he said. "Smiling, I was always told, was a sign of weakness."


But a cousin repeatedly dragged him to a Bible study class. Late in his sophomore year, Wiley had dropped out of Hesperia's football program and was on his way to being kicked out of school.


"They asked if anyone was tired of the way they were living," Wiley said. "This time, I opened my ears."


The summer between his sophomore and junior years, he cleaned up his language and dropped his "gangsta" affectations. When he got back to school in the fall, he reached out to those he had bullied previously.


"Everyone that I crossed, I had to apologize (to)," he said. But it wasn't easy to reinvent himself: "I was alone at lunch for a whole school year."


And he caught up academically. He graduates as an A student, having "found the joy" in academics.


In the fall, he'll be a student at Victor Valley College, with an eye toward one day becoming a deputy sheriff. And, of course, he'll be going to church, which he calls his "home."


"The future still lies ahead, unknown and undiscovered," Wiley said. "Now, more than ever, you have control."