Cougar class of 2014: ‘Seasons of Love’

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The class of 2014 celebrates the end of the Christopher High School graduation ceremony Friday.

With a gift to Christopher High School, the fifth-ever Cougar class of 2014 proudly walked down the aisles with a lasting mark of achievement to outgoing Principal Patricia Jolly: a gift from the senior class.
On June 13, Jolly and fellow administrators watched on as the class of 2014 Cougars graduated to be the first-of-its kind in contributing more than 25,000 hours toward community service, along with a bench emblazoned in the class of 2014’s remembrance.
For the Gilroy-based Castro family, the occasion beckoned enough inspiration to hand-craft a sign in honor of their special graduate, Phillip A. Castro, who was awarded the most valuable player award for volleyball, as well as recognition for completion of 160 hours or more of community service hours. Castro said he gave back to the local community by coaching. Her mother, Esperanza Cid, spoke proudly of the young graduate as camera flashes greeted students following the ceremony.
“We are so proud of him,” said Cid said.
For CHS class of 2014 valedictorian Andy Kuang—also prom king—his experience alongside the class of 2014 offered a variety of first-time experiences like prom and a concert. Extracurricular activities and lessons learned aside, Kuang harkened back to the solidarity created in the educational atmosphere of the school.
“In each class, a family was formed,” Kuang said, “We only have one life, and we should live that life to the fullest.”
He went on to say, “To me enjoyment is the meaning of life, but there is no point in the meaning of life if you don’t have life in the first place, and that is where I have found the line that has to be drawn between having fun and holding back. Because life is precious, and once it’s gone it’s gone.”
For co-salutatorians Vivi Nguyen and Kyle Robinson, thanks was due to the amazing staff at CHS for fostering “a fruitful environment of guidance and encouragement” as well as students “that surround us daily and encourage others to be the best they can be” and parents, who supported students along the way—even with late night grilled cheese sandos to ease the studying tension.
As the duo pointed out, the achievements of the class of 2014 surpassed many expectations of any class before them. Every single student graduating contributed to the 25,000-plus hours of service to the community as the first class to experience a mandatory annual community service requirement.
“These past four years have been a combination of grueling nights of studying and stress, seemingly endless hours of schools, but also unforgettable moments with our family and friends” Nguyen said.
During the commencement ceremony, students had the chance to reflect on the 525,600 minutes from the recital of “Seasons of Love” by choir students led by director Claire Massey.
Jolly—who received a standing ovation following her speech—recalled her roots as a teacher who would visit a college friend and his wife the invariable single phrase dictating the night’s conversation, “This is about one of my favorite students.” Shifting into administration, Jolly recalled how those stories lapsed, only to return when she was hired at CHS.
“Each and every one of you are my favorites,” Jolly said. “In all of your glorious individuality, your strength and differences that don’t clash but complement each other, you represent all that I had hoped for a class of young graduates heading out into the world ready to take it on with maturity, understanding, excitement and care for others. Your talent and your character honor CHS, your families and most of all your own sense of self.”
As her husband, Cliff, will attest, her stories have returned.
“He loves you for giving back my purpose,” Jolly said, reminding students to look beyond the 525,600 minutes to 2,102,400 minutes to “your whole four years.”
As the song goes, how do you measure a year in the life? Love—concluding “seasons of love.”
“These four years have been true seasons of love for me watching you and CHS grow,” Jolly said.
For student-chosen keynote speaker Patricia Budd, her experiences at Christopher High School have been life-changing. Interspersed with tears of Joy, Budd offered not advice, but a warning: “The world doesn’t owe you anything.”
With one caveat.
“But I do,” Budd said, telling students about how they inspired her.
“I hope that the world gives you everything that you wished for, and you should never let anyone including me to tell you don’t deserve what you want,” Budd said during her speech. “I’m simply saying you have no right to expect anything other than that which you go out and get for yourself, and even then there is no guarantee that you won’t sometimes be deprived of things that you’ve worked so hard for or that other people will not get things that they haven’t earned.”
Following a standing ovation, Budd remarked, “We are so proud of you. We love you so much—congratulations.”
For the complete CHS graduation story, see the Friday, June 20 issue of the Gilroy Dispatch.

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