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Valencia seniors open week of graduations

Posted: May 30, 2008 1:34 a.m.
Updated: July 31, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Daniel Peter Guzman walks off the stage after receiving his diploma during Valencia High School's graduation ceremony Thursday night at College of the Canyons.

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Carrying a lighted torch, valedictorian Megan Del Vecchio led her classmates onto the field at College of the Canyons Thursday evening as Valencia High School seniors graduated in front of a stadium full of well-wishers.

First came the honor students wearing yellow, followed by the rest of the graduates in purple caps and gowns. Some were wearing leis, some were wearing colored braids around their necks indicating various honors they had received, but all were wearing big smiles as they waved to friends and family in the stands.

"I've been really excited about graduation since January," said honor student Chris Rosenberger, who will head to the University of Colorado next fall to study computer science information systems. "I'll miss all the friends I've made over the past four years."

Graduate Amanda Malfitano was glad to be finishing high school, going to college and getting started with her life.

Amanda is going to Arizona State University next fall to study neuroscience.

"I want to be a brain surgeon," Amanda said. "I'm going to miss seeing the same kids every day since kindergarten."

Around 560 Valencia seniors received diplomas Thursday. Among the graduates were 65 honor students with a grade point average of 4.0 or higher, and six National Merit Scholars.

"We are proud of all of the students graduating with honors from our school," Principal Paul Priesz said.

He spoke to the graduates about happiness, telling them to focus on the positive. "Today marks the end of one period of your lives, and the beginning of another," Priesz said. "I am confident that you will give your best, and strive to bring happiness to your lives and to others."

The Flame of Inspiration award, presented to the most inspirational teacher of the year, was presented to Dudley Rooney.

"There is never a dull moment in this teacher's classroom," said Lelani Bernardino, who presented the award. "Even if you're in a bad mood, you will leave his classroom with a smile on your face."

Two graduates, selected from a pool of students who tried out, were the featured speakers. Senior Nicholas Peters spoke to his classmates about "Little Lessons."

"We've all learned more than our share of lessons over the years," Nicholas said. "But when you think back on high school, you're not going to remember quadratic equations or if you have a dangling participle."

Nicholas said that the things that most graduates would remember were the events that happened on campus, like the prom, and all the friends they had made over the years.

Shea Jackson, the other senior class speaker, encouraged her classmates to "Make a Wish."

"Well, we're here - can you believe it?" Shea asked her classmates. "Together we transformed from wide-eyed freshmen with campus maps and big dreams, into poised, confident seniors well-equipped to bring those dreams to fruition."

Shea told her fellow graduates to step off the stage with confidence, knowing without a doubt that they can make their dreams come true.

"Make a wish and place it in your heart. Now believe that it can come true," Shea said. "The world is full of magic - you just have to believe in it."

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