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410 Timberwolves reach their goals
Salutatorian Delaine Quaresma receives her diploma from Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Sierra High School’s valedictorian Lauren Morowit walked through the wisdom of the ages to summarize the five most important life lessons she has learned thus far.

In her valedictory speech Thursday during the outdoor graduation ceremonies that was threatened by rain which eventually fell toward the end, Morowit shared her five nuggets of wisdom – gleaned from Cicero, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mother Teresa – with everyone, but in particular, with her fellow Timberwolf graduates who are now embarking on yet another challenging chapter in their lives.

She summarized the five lessons in simple single words: responsibility, perseverance, faith, appreciation, and hope – in that order.

In emphasizing the importance of responsibility, Morowit quoted Gandhi who advocated nonviolent or passive resistance to make a difference: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Education, the valedictorian said, is an instrument to be used constructively.

She summoned Gandhi a second time in trying to emphasize the importance of perseverance when she said that “strength does not come from physical capacity but from an indomitable will.” To that nugget of wisdom, Morowit added her own, saying, “Don’t be distracted by negative opinions. Do what you feel is right in your heart, and never underestimate your capacity.”

Everyone is here for a purpose, and to find that purpose, we have to look into our hearts for guidance, Morowit explained. And this is where faith comes in, she said, as when Mother Teresa wrote: “We are all pencils in the hand of God.”

In reaching back to the time of Cicero, one of Rome’s greatest orators who lived a century before the birth of Christ, Morowit not only expanded on one of the five most important lessons she has learned in her young life but also provided proof of the enduring nature of wisdom that never goes stale or obsolete. “Gratitude,” she quoted the Roman statesman, “is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Morowit used this as a springboard to acknowledge the vital roles her parents, close relatives and especially her late grandmother played in her life. Her parents have always “fostered my dreams,” she said, from the time they walked her at age three through the campus of the University of California, Berkeley where they are both alumni. She also acknowledged the parental role her aunt and uncle played in her growing up, planting in her the seed of a “potential career in the legal realm.” Morowit is UC Berkeley-bound where she plans to study political science along with communications.

But it was Morowit’s grandmother that brought the tears. Her grandmother had fought hard to be around at her graduation; unfortunately, she succumbed to cancer before the red-letter day.

“I dedicate this entire day to my grandmother. I know you’re not here but you’re with me in spirit. You are my hero,” said Morowit through her tears.

In her message of hope to her fellow graduates, Morowit scanned her senior classmates in the audience and said that in their faces she was seeing doctors, entrepreneurs, politicians, teachers and artists of the future.

“Discover what makes you happy,” she told her soon-to-be former classmates, and “be optimistic and believe in your dream.”

As a parting word, she shared with them the hope-filled words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of a dream.”

Salutatorian Delaine Quaresma, in her salutatory address, pointed out that the word “success,” based on its definition in the dictionary, best describes the Class of 2010. They are not just the smartest, based on the results of STAR tests, but their class with its 410 graduates is one of Sierra High’s largest senior classes to date, said the daughter of Raymond and Sue Quaresma who is bound for the University of California, Los Angeles where she plans to major in biology.

Despite the threat of rain throughout the roughly hour and a half graduation ceremony in the Daniel Teicheira Stadium, Mother Nature cooperated until shortly after the start of the distribution of diplomas. However, while several people left the bleachers and sprinted to their vehicles, many more steadfastly remained in their seats and opened their large multi-colored umbrellas. Just as the rain began to fall, just behind the eastern bleachers appeared in a symbolic manner a 180-degree bright rainbow.