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Graduation a night of uplifting words for EU Class of 2014
East Union High Class of 2014 graduates, from left, Courtney Leigh Posz, Samantha Nicole Thurmon, and Marina Alohi-Lani Salyer proudly show off their diplomas. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

How do you stop a man who won’t quit?

East Union High School Class of 2014 valedictorian Will Davis posed that question in the speech he delivered graduation night on Friday.

Don’t quit. “That attitude was instilled in us by East Union. The Class of 2014 doesn’t quit,” Davis said.

It was precisely that hard-earned lesson that he was able to finish writing his valedictory speech at 3 o’clock that morning, he said.

Salutatorian Brook Niendorf’s message to her graduating class focused on the rewards of hard work, patience, and determination. She prefaced that message by saying that after the seemingly never-ending homework and essays, studying, late nights burning both ends of the candle, and waking up early on cold mornings, “I’m so done with high school,” a comment that was received with laughter from several people in the audience.

But, she told her classmates with a smile and a sigh of relief, “Let’s face it, it all paid off.”

After thanking her parents and the “amazing faculty” at East Union who “pushed and supported” her, she concluded with these parting words to her soon-to-be former classmates: “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

A third student speaker, Regina Aleece Dias, shared a few pearls of wisdom of her own with the members of her graduating class. “Find your passion and follow it,” she said.

“Embrace change as a challenge who will become your friend,” she added, and whatever you do, “do it with passion and keep your values.”

Dias earned the opportunity to stand at the podium on her graduation day because of a Lancer tradition. Members of the graduating class are invited to take part in an essay competition with the selected winner getting the chance to give a speech during the commencement exercises.

There were some bittersweet and inspiring moments for graduates like Jose Juarez and Alyssa Ratliff.

For Juarez, Friday’s milestone was tinged with sadness. He lost his mother suddenly two weeks before his graduation. But his father and several aunts, uncles, and cousins were there to lift his spirits up and to literally pick him up in celebration. He will be studying computer science at Delta in Stockton then later transfer to DeVry University in Southern California.

For Ratliff, the evening was an inspirational one when her 10-year-old cousin Sienna Ratliff congratulated her with an oversized poster with the message: “Alyssa, UR a Hero to Me.”