WESTON RANCH – When Weston Ranch class of 2009 valedictorian Winnie Bahn first started off as a Cougar four years ago, she sat alone at lunch for the first three months of school.
But time has a way of changing everything and everyone.
Thursday at Weston Ranch High, Bahn, alongside 258 of her senior classmates celebrated a moment four short years in the making.
Four years that Bahn says the class of 2009 will remember fondly for the rest of their lives.
“High school has allowed us the opportunity to bond with people who surround us,” she said during a poignant four-minute speech highlighted by a witty and light-hearted sense of humor. “It has given us people to call when we have nothing better to do. People to cry with because it makes us feel better. And if we’re ever in some fatal accident, people to call for blood donations. Register their blood type in your phones, just in case.”
Weston Ranch Stadium was filled to standing-room-only capacity with family and friends who came to share the moment and celebrate the lives of a class that calls itself, “The last of the best.”
Following the Color Guard presentation, Alexis Gaspar sang the Star-Spangled Banner and Deanna Dawson led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Senior class speech was offered by Genai Bigornia and Amanda Ducker.
“In the beginning, we had a rocky start,” Bigornia said. “But as the years passed and progressed, we really reached our full potential. No one outside this school will ever understand what it is like to be a Weston Ranch High student or faculty member.
“Yes, we are different from the rest. But the differences that we have created between ourselves and other schools are what really define our own traits that make this school unique.”
Said Ducker: “We have been judged and falsely perceived. However, it is our positivity that has allowed us to overcome all obstacles. I have never known any class or school like our own.”
Following Bigornia and Ducker, Weston Ranch Principal Clara Schmiedt welcomed the crowd on hand and congratulated the class of 2009.
Following “Seasons of Love” by the Weston Ranch choir, Banh offered her thoughts and the Weston Ranch band performed, “I’ll Be There.”
Salutatorian Sandeep Kaur then took center stage.
“Finally it seems that all of our hard work has paid off,” Kaur said. “All of those sleepless nights, doing either homework or studying for the chemistry test or English exams. But all of those countless benchmarks have made us what we are today.
“The title of ‘Graduate’ does not come as easily as it has in the past. It certainly requires a lot of hard work, determination, will power, and most importantly, patience and passion to be the best.”
According to Bahn, it’s that passion that will inevitably lead the Weston Ranch class of 2009 to the top.
“When we all meet again at our 10-year reunion, we’ll all be rich and successful, because we’re going to live up to the expectations we were given,” she said. “We’re not going to roll into the driveway in our limos, we’re going to line up our private jets on the roof.”
Following Kaur’s words, Darla Butterfield and Stayce Baptista recognized the California Scholarship Federation honorees, and Schmiedt certified the class.
Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer then accepted the class, and Nancy Austin, Jesika Farhadi, Deni Kobrin and Nicole Rosado announced the graduates.
After Don Halseth, Rex Holiday, Wendy King and Manuel Medeiros awarded diplomas, Schmiedt presented the class of 2009.
“This ceremony is a celebration of each graduate’s determination,” Schmiedt said. “It is a celebration of each graduate working so hard to overcome their own struggles. It is also a celebration for parents, family members and loved ones who have dedicated their time, energy and love to these young adults.”