Charge forward, but remember

Meghan Flynn
Jared Arellano, foreground center, and other members of the Class of 2020 in the arts and communications academy turn their tassels to graduate from Garden City High School Friday in the school's gym. Each of GCHS' academies are having their own commencements to observe social distancing. Everyone attending the ceremonies, participants and audience members, are required to wear face masks.

Every student at Garden City High School remembers being a Buffalo differently as the experience was different for each student.

At least, that’s what Adair Torres, class speaker for the School of Arts and Communication at GCHS said during his commencement speech Friday night.

Some have cherished the title of a GCHS Buffalo, while some have detested, Torres said. Either way they used that title to push forward.

“What it means to be a Buffalo means to be someone who can forge their own path to the future,” he said. “With this ability, each of us graduates can continue charging forward when the world throws problems our way.”

No matter what each felt, their time as Buffaloes has ended and the next stage of their lives lie ahead, Torres said. It’s time to forge on.

“Let’s do just that as we stampede a path straightforward to our hopes and our dreams, but along the way please hold on to your faith, your goals and courage as you strive to be the best you you can be,” he said.

GCHS principal Steve Nordby said the class of 2020 will be remembered for things such as academic excellence, performance, activities, service to the community and the collision of their education and COVID-19.

The class has persevered through the global pandemic and the lessons learned from it will serve them well in life, Nordby said. The class of 2020 has grit.

“This group of students never let obstacles stand in their way. When they set their sights on achievement, they worked until the job was done,” he said. “They didn't listen to critics or those that said that can't be done, the class of 2020 was too busy doing what other people said couldn't be done. They had grit.”

Dan Fankhauser, 2020 Hall of Fame Honoree agrees.

“You've had to deal with some adversity and a lot of disappointments while learning what is truly important,” he said. “You have survived a century, world-wide pandemic that to date has claimed over 500,00 living, breathing people who did not survive.”

With diplomas now in hand, it’s up to the students to forge their next step in life, Fankhauser said.

"It's all up to you now,“ he said.

While moving forward, Fankhauser reminds students to remember their past — memories with friends, family, teachers; adventures and misadventures; sporting events; plays; debates; and awards won.

He also told students to not be afraid to make mistakes as “any successful person will tell you they have made mistakes in life.

Quoting poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fankhauser advised students to find their own path, especially if it’s the one less traveled, “'do not go where the path may lead you, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

GCHS held four graduation ceremonies, one for each of the school’s academies — Arts and Communication Academy graduation was held Friday at 7 p.m., Public Service Academy graduation was held on July 18 at 10 a.m., Health Academy graduation was held on July 18 at 7 p.m. and the Trades Academy graduation will be held July 19 at 2 p.m.

The senior speakers, one at each ceremony, were Adair Torres, Olivia Hanigan, Karly Larson and Jade Valdez Gomez.

Jade Valdez Gomez delivers the senior speech Saturday morning at Garden City High School during the public service academy's commencement in the school's gym.