Gering High School bid a fond farewell to the 131 members of the Class of 2023 gathered at Five Rocks Amphitheater for commencement on Saturday morning.
Gering High School principal Mario Chavez kicked off the ceremony by reminding the students, along with their assembled family and friends, about the legacy of where they stood and the countless ways they’ve carried it forward.
“As we look out against the beautiful Five Rocks backdrop, I think about the pioneers who passed through on the Oregon Trail,” Chavez said. “Fueled by hope of new opportunities that lay ahead, they endured incredible hardship and kept driving forward with Gering grit. I outline this history because you, Class of 2023, are very much pioneers as well.”
Chavez outlined the journey the Class of 2023 has taken in recent years and the new ground they’ve broken for the district. As the first class to begin their high school careers in the newly renovated and realigned Gering High School and the first class with access to the school’s career pathways program for a full four years, Saturday’s graduates were indeed trailblazers for their school and community.
People are also reading…
“You have a lot to be thankful and grateful for. You guys paved the way for new beginnings at Gering High School and new things and new trends that are happening today,” Chavez said.
The Class of 2023 also set a new record for participation in Gering’s work-based learning program with 60 seniors involved, many of whom have made connections within the workplace that have already resulted in post-graduation employment.
“Much like the pioneers of the past, many of your journeys have also been marked with obstacles and struggles. But you’re here today because you dug deep and used your Gering grit to propel you forward,” Chavez said. “Your future is bright, untapped and yours to create, so look ahead and remember that you are pioneers. Blaze new trails that may look different than others. Believe the world needs your gifts and talents more than ever.”
Three student speakers then took to the stage with three distinct messages of encouragement for their classmates. First was Jada Schlothauer, who discussed the tendency the world has to grill students of all ages about what they want to eventually become.
“We have been getting asked this question pretty much since we’ve been able to talk. You would think that since we’ve been asked this question so many times that the answer should come naturally to us,” she said. “You’re allowed to change your mind. I might not know exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know this: We’re all graduating today whether we have a set plan or not. So buckle up and take a look around.”
Cerelia Barrios followed up with a personal story about how the staff at Gering High School played a pivotal role in turning her life around. She described her experience of nearly giving up on life before her creative writing teacher, Katie Moser, recognized that something was wrong and kicked off a series of events that ultimately led her to her joyous graduation day.
“It was hard, don’t get me wrong. I had to learn how to let others take care of me. I had to learn how to include others in my decisions. I had to learn what a loving home looked like. I had to learn how to accept love,” Barrios said. “Katie and Brent Moser, along with the entire staff at Gering High School, are the sole reason I’m not only walking this stage with all of you today, but why I’m still alive. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
Isabella Longoria then wrapped up with a few reminders of the life lessons the students have picked up throughout their school careers. These included the need to put your best and most genuine self forward, stopping to enjoy the little things in life and the importance of selecting only the best people as friends.
“Choose to surround yourself with people who support you in all that you do and all that you stand for. Pick the people that lift you up and don’t try to bring you down, and be that person for them, too,” she said. “My wise and all-knowing mother once told me, ‘Never miss a chance to be kind to others. You never know who will end up being your best friend.’”
After filing across the stage and turning their tassels, Gering High School’s Class of 2023 finally went their separate ways to continue blazing new trails like the many brave pioneers who came before them.