Nearly 450 Lakeside High School Lancers can now call themselves the graduating class of 2012.
In front of a near capacity crowd, the seniors took to The Diamond Stadium field Wednesday afternoon to claim their diplomas.
Wearing their forest green caps and gowns, the students were not unlike thousands of other graduating seniors this year.
But a special Lancer pride was palpable. The relatively new high school produced 26 valedictorians this year, when boys soccer took the title in March, when senior wrestler Armani Bains claimed the prize this spring, and in early 2011
The students also claim a special bond with each other.
Lancer valedictorian Eric Waisanen told the audience in attendance Wednesday that
There are no cliques, no geeks, no nerds, no jocks.
“(Lakeside is) a loving and nurturing home for all,” he said.
But the 2011-12 school year was not without tragedy. and his Lancers were devastated. At the time of his death, Moscowitz was working for the Hemet Unified School District, having left Lake Elsinore Unified following the close of the 2010-11 school year. Still, thousands of Lancers just two days after his passing.
Class of 2012 valedictorian Celestine Snell remembered Moscowitz in her valedictory address Wednesday. Reminding her fellow grads of how proud she was to be in a class of academic and athletic high achievers, she told her classmates to continue the Lancer pride.
“Do it for Moscowitz,” she said.
Current Lakeside principal Dr. Peter Hopping congratulated the seniors on their excellence as students, athletes and human beings.
“You have shown what it is to be a Lancer – rise and lead,” he told them.
Riverside County Office of Education Superintendent Kenneth Young was on hand to address the students and offered a sobering reminder of their choices ahead. Some graduates, he said, will go on to college, the military, will look for work, or will mull their futures ahead.
But trying to find a job “is difficult today,” he said.
Young encouraged the students to , noting that, according to 2010 census data, the average person who obtains a Bachelor’s degree earns approximately $58,000 a year, compared to $31,000 annually for those with only a high school diploma.
Young conceded that college is a tough proposition, and many who start don’t finish. But he pleaded with the graduating Lancers.
“Don’t quit. Don’t give up.”
also addressed the students, adding, “It’s up to you to create the opportunities for success.”