Velzani Moncayo could barely hold back the tears that welled in her eyes as she looked back at the Boulder City High School class of 2016.
Moncayo was not nervous; as student body president she had given many speeches before. On June 1 she was overwhelmed with joy and overcome with nostalgia as she gave her last high school speech on the same football field where she and the other 142 graduating seniors cheered on the Eagles.
“The community and this class were quick to embrace me when I took the long trek from Mexico to Boulder City,” Moncayo said, gasping in between words to hold back her tears. “It is my pleasure to introduce for the last time, the Boulder City High School class of 2016.”
The mood at graduation was much like Moncayo’s, a feeling of joy for the future and a sense of sadness for the four years that passed too quickly.
The students expressed their joy in different ways. Some cried, others happily embraced friends and family, and some stood quietly reflecting on their accomplishments.
Anna Schweich said she was overwhelmed.
“None of this feels real, not even right now and I just graduated,” Schweich said as she smiled and hugged her best friend Alexis Lyman. I don’t know what I am going to do in the future, but I am really happy to be done with high school.”
Schweich said she will go to college in the fall, but she has not decided where she will attend or what she hopes to study.
Kyle Gossard expressed the same sentiment.
“The whole feeling is really surreal,” Gossard said. “I was in the band for four years so I have always played at graduation. It is amazing to have someone play for my graduation this time. None of it felt real until they called my name.”
Gossard will attend the College of Southern Nevada to study criminal justice. One of four valedictorians, Samuel Gomez, who will attend Cornell University in the fall, asked his fellow classmates to reflect on the mistakes they had made.
“Mistakes are an interesting part of a community, because people who tend to amass a number of mistakes tend to learn a lot,” Gomez said. “We all made mistakes, but learn from them and never let them hold you back.”
Valedictorian Sabrina Snow reminded graduates that the end of high school was only the start of their journey. Snow compared a graduate’s journey to the seed of a redwood tree.
“A redwood seed is only 5 millimeters in size,” Snow said. “But that seed can grow into a tree over 360 feet high. I am inspired by these tiny seeds because, like us, they are small and new, but those seeds have so much potential to be great.”
Snow will attend Utah State University in the fall.
Graduation was a time to think about the future and all the potential it holds, but it was also a time for students to think about a teacher who had died — a teacher who helped many in the class of 2016.
English teacher Leslie Ringen died in November from health issues. She was 62. The loss of Ringen could be felt by the entire graduating class as they paid their respects to the teacher who had given them so much.
“Mrs. Ringen always said to be little is to belittle,” Brian Johnson said to the class of 2016 during a speech in honor of the teacher. “In Ringen’s eyes no one was ever little. She wanted to teach here till her last days and she did. I want us to take a moment to thank and remember the real fifth Beatle and the biggest Hello Kitty collector I know, Mrs. Ringen.”
After each students’ name was called the class of 2016 met at the center of the football field one last time and threw their caps into the air. High school was officially over and, as graduate Snow said earlier, they were little seeds with endless potential.
Contact reporter Max Lancaster at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @MLancasterBCR.