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The 70th annual Los Alamos High School commencement exercises, which took place in Griffith Gymnasium Saturday, were a mixture of cheers, laughter, remembrance, wittiness, and, of course, pop culture references.
The gym was packed with Hilltopper family and friends, and excitement was in the air as the 2013 graduates and guests, led by fellow graduate Cassidy Reeves, stood up for the NJROTC Color Guards and the national anthem.
Graduate Naftali Burakovsky introduced the first alumni speaker in the history of LAHS. Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, Director of Community Programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory, charmed his audience with his self-proclaimed “straight talk,” which gave life advice with the help of Kim Kardashian, Oprah Winfrey, Yogi Berra, and Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes.
Then student speaker Nasim Andrews, introduced by Aaron Roybal, urged her peers to remember the moment and say thank you to those who have helped the students to get to that point. Her speech, “Today We Say Thank You,” encouraged the crowd to view life as “a card signed with love” for all the important people in their lives.
Janet Newton, Humanities and Genre World Literature instructor, followed Andrews’ metaphor-rich speech as this year’s teacher speaker. She was introduced by Antonia Batha, and officially named herself “the second alumni speaker in the history of LAHS.”
An LAHS graduate, Newton confessed that she never would have expected to be in this position, addressing the crowd as a teacher at the high school. In her speech, she included a shout-out to the Speech and Debate team, which she co-coaches.
Principal Sandra Warnock, introduced by Kyle Partin, closed the series of speeches. Throughout her talk, she praised Los Alamos for coming together in times of trouble. “Los Alamos has remained a caring community,” Warnock said, listing examples such as grieving together through student deaths, as well as coming together in support of Marilyn Fabry, a math instructor battling cancer.
Her speech, which took students down memory lane, was followed by the LAHS choir performance of “Irish Blessings,” and the most anticipated moment, the presentation of diplomas.
Then, the more than 250 graduates moved their tassels and threw their caps in the air to an eruption of applause by the audience. The closing was led by Dalton Smith.
Overall, the 2013 Graduation Ceremony was well represented by the Class of 2013 motto, provided by American rapper and musician Macklemore: “And we danced, and we cried, and we laughed, and had a really, really, really good time.”