A soldier’s sendoff: Ft. Irwin Commander addresses Silver Valley High grads

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Jose Quintero, Desert Dispatch

BARSTOW — Cheers and the sounds of blasting confetti bombs were rampant at inside the Barstow Community College gymnasium for the 2016 Silver Valley High School graduation ceremony on Tuesday night.

Things were a lot different during this ceremony compared to 28 years ago, when Fort Irwin Garrison Commander Col. G. Scott Taylor graduated from Silver Valley High School.

“My graduation wasn’t quite here, I was in a different location but I was graduating just like you guys are from Silver Valley High School,” Taylor, who was the commencement keynote speaker, told the seniors. Taylor said his graduation was held on the high school’s quad and he remembers the blistering sun and unforgiving heat in 1988.

Taylor joked that he and his peers contemplated wearing shorts underneath their gowns. His jokes drew laughs from the hundreds of people packed inside the air-conditioned gymnasium.

Taylor congratulated the students on the accomplishment of completing their high school education, but he reminded them that the battle still lies ahead.

“I walked a mile in your moccasins, so to speak, I am one of you,” Taylor said. “There are many mile markers ahead. Some of you are continuing your education, 52 of you graduates have plans to start school in the fall, six of you are going to enlist in our great military and others will be transitioning immediately into the workforce. Any way you look at it, you have your whole lives ahead of you.

“You’ve lived in the relative protection of your parents’ homes for the past 18 years and have had freedoms limited. Have been told where and when to be and what to do. But now as you embark on the rest of your lives you have unprecedented freedoms but also unprecedented responsibilities. You will be expected to handle those responsibilities with the same diligence that led you to this stage today.”

The ceremony started with the traditional sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” as over 60 Trojans dawning white-and-blue gowns walked out to the cheers of their loved ones in their final moments as high school seniors. Graduate Karolina Rivera belted out her rendition of the national anthem as the 1916th Support Battalion from Fort Irwin presented the colors.

Valedictorian Kayla Black addressed her class and like Taylor offered her fellow graduates some encouraging advice.

“Life goes by fast and before you know it you’re graduating and then getting a job and then retiring. So find beauty in the ordinary and in the journey. Live your life now,” Black said. “Our class really has the power to shape society and the world we live in. We have technology at our fingertips and some of the most creative and talented individuals yet.

“I believe there is something out there for all of us; whether it’s fixing cars or performing surgery, there are endless possibilities. But find what really makes you tick and what makes you passionate about life.”

During the ceremony Principal Marc Lacey announced Black has been accepted to University of California, Los Angeles and salutatorian Gabriel Perez to University of California, Riverside. Perez not only gave a salutatorian speech but also played his bass as he performed a song with fellow students Joshua Baca, Jessica Falla and Ryan Murray.