LATHROP – E.T. used a Speak-and-Spell, an umbrella and a coffee can to communicate with another world.
Now people carry computers in their pocket capable of watching high definition video and allowing them to manipulate the stock market in less than 10 swipes of their finger.
Progress has been made.
Maybe this is what Lathrop High School Class President Kevin Barajas was getting at when he pulled out his own cell phone, put it up to the microphone, and played the high-frequency shrill that has become iconic in Hollywood.
But whatever his reasoning, it resonated with his fellow graduates. Like clockwork they all rose from their seats, raised right hand towards the sky with their index finger pointed up, and looked towards the heavens.
None of these graduates were even close to being alive when Steve Spielberg directed E.T. The Extra Terrestrial 1982, and even fewer have probably ever held a VHS Tape in their hand. But Barajas’ gesture – regardless of the generation – carried weight with those who walked across Bennie Gatto Field Thursday evening and into a world just as uncertain as anything a two-foot tall visitor from another galaxy faced.
Yes, the Lathrop High School Class of 2014’s graduation ceremony was full of little treats just like that.
Kultar Ram – the Co-Valedictorian who got a shoutout from Barajas for helping him get through AP Calculus and Language and even poked fun at the fact that his own grandparents weren’t going to understand any part of his speech – reached under the lectern and pulled out a hat to show which of the universities he was accepted to he’ll be attending.
He’ll be a UCLA Bruin when the fall semester begins – majoring in economics and, truthfully, hoping to one day be the President of the United States. Ram 2032.
But Ram’s undeniable sense of humor also included some truth. He said that the one teacher that meant more to his education than any he’s ever had was Mr. Rodriguez in 6th grade – the only teacher that ever gave him a “C” on his report card. He’s never repeated that mistake.
He talked about how the Class of 2014 was a class of action – when the kids wanted a teen center they pushed for it. When they wanted to see a name change on the street in front of the school, they pushed for it.
And then, he capped it all off with the wit and wisdom of Spider Man’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy.
“I know that we all think we’re immortal – we’re supposed to feel that way, we’re graduating. The future is and should be bright, but, like our brief four years in high school, what makes life valuable is that it doesn’t last forever. What makes it precious is that it ends,” he said that she said. “I know that now more than ever. And I say it today of all days to remind us that time is luck. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Make yours count for something. Fight for what matters to you, no matter what.
“Because even if you fall short, what better way is there to live?”