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Amidst boisterous applause, flashing lights, and the proud gazes of friends and family, the 2008 graduating class of Los Alamos High School took the stage Saturday morning at Griffith Gym to receive their diplomas.
The ceremony began with a performance by a crisp sounding LAHS commencement band, the advancing of the colors by the NJROTC color guard and a couple of comical speeches delivered by student speaker Desta Shelley and teacher speaker Jonathan Lathrop.
“How many times during your high school career did people ask you, what the hell is a Hilltopper?” Shelley asked her fellow graduates.
After cataloguing a list of possible meanings, including one that mentioned the top of the hill that was “burnt to a crisp,” Shelley suggested that the real meaning of Hilltoppers was that LAHS students “always come out on top.”
“As we set out to top the hills that we will face, we will do it with authenticity,” Shelley said in her closing statement.
Speaker Jonathan Lathrop seemed to share the same sentiment, telling the crowd of anxious graduates that they were now “prepared to face the world with courage,” and that the valuable lessons they learned in high school should guide them towards a future of success, respect, and peace.
LAHS Principal Grace Brown then spoke of the many achievements of the class of ’08, including re-painting the “LA,” putting together spirit week, having a successful year in various sports, and having no minor in possession citations given out during prom night in all of Los Alamos County.
“Whatever you do, don’t let your successes go to your head, and don’t let your failures go to your heart,” Brown said.
LAPS president Steve Girrens and principal Brown then presented the graduating class their diplomas, while friends and family members rained down on them with various cheers, chants, and whistles.
“I felt so proud,” said parent Kathy Alexander. “This was my last one graduating here today, I really enjoyed it.”
Students reunited with family and friends in the grassy area outside Griffith Gym, some pouring with emotion and others looking carefree and zipping around congratulating fellow graduates.
“This is really exciting,” said graduate Daniel Graham. “I think this year was a lot more interesting than past years, but that may be because I was the one graduating this time. Now I’m off to college.”
Other graduates, like Miles Romero, said they were just glad to finally be done with school.
“I was really nervous, but it felt great to get my diploma because I had a really tough time in school,” he said. “This feels awesome.”