Jefferson High grads told: 'You are priceless'

Steve Gerace
Jefferson High School teacher Tim Loughlin praises graduate Michael Harris-Lopez during last week’s commencement 
ceremony at Mt. Shasta City Park. Principal Ed Stokes said he likes how 
Jefferson graduations are personalized for each graduate. See more photos at  Photo by 
Steve Gerace

Teachers, during presentations personalized for each Jefferson High School graduate, spoke of students who overcame many obstacles in the years leading up to Thursday evening’s commencement program; students who stayed positive and persevered; students who graduated early and/or finished quickly, who were focused and dedicated and are going places.

“I squandered my first two years (in high school),” said Michael Harris-Lopez, one of two student speakers during the ceremony in Mt. Shasta City Park’s Main Lodge. “My back was to the wall... My drive for success proved stronger than my fear of failure... It was at Jefferson High School that I found my confidence.”

Later, teacher Tim Loughlin praised Harris-Lopez for his speech, for his many achievements and growth during three years at Jefferson, and for moving on next to study at College of the Siskiyous.

“We rode and we rolled,” said student speaker Daniellia Cushman-Guillen, who recounted the friendships that were made, the good times that were had, the challenges overcome. She tallied the hours – more than 113,000 of them – that it took “to receive this handshake and diploma.”

She told her classmates, “We succeeded in that, and we will succeed in the future.”

Principal Ed Stokes asked the graduates how many of them wanted the $20 bill he took out of his wallet, then how many still wanted it after he threw it on the ground and again after he stomped on it.

In the same way that the money did not lose its value after it was “dumped and ground into the dirt,” Stokes told the graduates, “No matter what happens, you will never lose your value. You are priceless to those who love you... You are priceless individuals and each of you has unique skills... Things that are rare are most valuable.”

Stokes also told a story about employees who were told that the person who had been hindering their growth at the company had died, and they were invited to the funeral. They wondered who it was until they approached the coffin one by one, looked in, and saw their own reflections in a mirror. There was also a sign next to the mirror that said, “There is only one person who is capable to set limits on your growth: it is you.”

“Your life changes when you change,” Stokes said. “You are the only one responsible for limiting your life. Take responsibility for your life... follow a positive path that you choose for you.”

A big cheer went up in the crowded lodge at the start of the ceremony when Stokes welcomed graduates from Jefferson in Happy Camp and when he welcomed the two graduates from the independent study program at McCloud High.

Jefferson graduate Nicholas Manley, praised by Loughlin for being “tenaciously honest,” led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Siskiyou Union High School trustees Margaret DeBortoli and Lori Harch presented the diplomas. Trustee John Hines attended, as did teachers Tim Loughlin, Sophia Martin, Melissa Moore, Keven Brown, Liz Laney, and Angelika Brown.

2013 Jefferson graduates are: Jake Allen Carroll, Rosie Nicole Conrad, Daniellia Josephina Cushman-Guillen, William Shawn Delano, Jacob Quinn Gonzales, Ernest Walton Guiducci, Michael Anthony Harris-Lopez, Alexandria Teresa Kalayjian, Christopher Alan Lucero, Carlos M Magana, Nicholas Joseph Kevin Manley, Chaz Marquee Mitchell, Eric Tyler Oxenham, Aaron Bradley Peruzzi, Toketee Sunrise Radabaugh, Christina Gracia Rossa, Deontay Henry-Deshaun Walker.

2013 McCloud High graduates are: Gavin Glenn Gonzales, Alysa Christine Wingfield.