Graduation was a more bittersweet affair than usual for Hesperia Christian School's Class of 2012, as the death of a classmate weeks earlier colored Friday night's graduation ceremony.


Loukas "Louie" Fischer, 17, died on May 18. A week after his memorial service, Fischer was still on the minds of his classmates, and the ephemeral nature of post-graduation possibilities.


"Life goes by so fast, and we get caught up in it too easily," valedictorian Timothy Hammill said.


Fischer's sister, Naomi Ley, was a co-valedictorian for the graduating class.


"If I've learned anything this year, and especially in the last two weeks, it's that life doesn't always meet our expectations," she said. "Our plans don't always turn out, relationships begin and end, friendships shift and change, and we lose people we never dreamed of having to live without. ... My prayer as we go from here and experience new changes, losses and triumphs is that we will hold fast to our savior and continue to trust in the goodness of his plans."


Hesperia Christian youth pastor Billy Hague tempered the traditional graduation admonitions for graduates to pursue their dreams with a spiritual message.


"It is only in Christ that you will find success and fulfillment," he said. "Pursue Christ because he is your life and your security."


Salutatorian Dakoda Kahn urged her fellow graduates to both live their life to the fullest while they have it and to also be mindful of the afterlife.


"We don't have to wait for the perfect moment to live life for the fullest. Just pick a moment and go for it," she said. "Eternity is now. What are you doing with it?"


Earlier in the evening, the Class of 2012 announced they were giving the school a stone bench in memory of Fischer. Look for more on him in an upcoming edition of the Hesperia Star.


Speech from Hesperia Christian School valedictorian Naomi Ley


"If I've learned anything this year, and especially in the last two weeks, it's that life doesn't always meet our expectations. Our plans don't always turn out, relationships begin and end, friendships shift and change, and we lose people we never dreamed of having to live without. Throughout all the changes, the one thing that stays constant is Christ's unending love for us. His plans are perfect even when they don't make sense. And in our despair, we can have the assurance that peace and hope can be found in no one else.


"Today brings yet another change in our lives. In the coming years, we are going to meet new people, experience some independence, and make decisions that will affect our futures. With these new changes (some wonderful and some painful), we must cleave to what we have been taught here at Hesperia Christian School: that true success in life comes from knowing Christ and having a relationship with him on a personal level. That through trials and triumph, God is shaping and molding us into the people he intended us to be. And that Mr. Hague is still Mr. Hague without his mustache.


"Romans 8:28, Louie's favorite verse, says, 'And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.' We many not fully grasp God's plan for us, or his purpose, be we can know that he is only seeking our well-being and our growth through what we face in life. This year, we lost our friend and classmate, and that was not something that we anticipated. And life is full of things that we don't anticipate. But we can rest in the knowledge that he who promised is faithful to turn our fears into courage, our weaknesses into strength, and our mourning into dancing.


"Congratulations, Class of 2012! My prayer as we go from here and experience new changes, losses and triumphs is that we will hold fast to our savior and continue to trust in the goodness of his plans!"


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at Beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.