SAN BERNARDINO — Cheers echoed throughout the San Manuel Amphitheater Wednesday evening as 467 graduates of Hesperia High School strode onto the stage to collect their long-awaited diplomas.
Students clasped black caps to their heads as a brisk wind blew their gowns and stoles — ranging in colors from red to gold to represent various academic and extracurricular accomplishments.
Hesperia High’s class of 2016 is the school’s 31st and the first to graduate under Principal Michelle Estrada’s leadership, and she expressed that she couldn’t be more proud of their success.
“You’ve set a standard for us to follow,” Estrada spoke to the graduates. Giving her best “words of wisdom,” she told the class to “make the most of every moment.”
“Live your moments fully,” Estrada said. “Make good, mindful decisions. Be kind. Choose happiness.”
She went on to introduce this year’s five valedictorians, who represent the top 1 percent of their class. They were accompanied by their parents to accept the honor before one, Meredith McCollum, took the stage to address her class.
“Let me just say it’s about time that we are here,” McCollum said. “It’s funny how a day that is so focused on what we will do in the future often leaves us looking back into our past. But it’s about time that we finish what we started four years ago.”
McCollum continued to encourage her classmates.
“I cannot offer you a promise that the future does not hold hardships before us, but hold on, because those moments too shall pass,” McCollum said. “... So class of 2016, tomorrow is before us, and time is on our side.”
Of the 467 graduates, 28 have chosen to serve in the military, 22 have selected trade schools, while the remaining have largely already been accepted into community colleges and universities, according to Estrada.
The 30 graduates in HHS’s Early College Academy earned a total of more than 850 college credits, meaning they will essentially enter college already sophomores.
Looking back at their high school careers, the Scorpion class has a lot to celebrate, including a football team that never lost to its rival, Sultana High, all four years — setting a new “golden standard,” Estra said — and a robotics team that ranked in the top 30 teams of 15,000 in the world.