Kylah Guzman embraced classmate Lily Cameron after their promotion ceremony at Fairmont Elementary School ended.
Others did the same across the well groomed grounds as staff and volunteers started stacking the chairs in the outdoor space that had been transformed yet again into a temporary amphitheater with the Sierra as a backdrop and farm fields for miles, providing a quiet barrier to the sounds of civilization. Friends and relations of the 74 students heading to high school milled about, taking pictures, talking of the future and generally basking in the moment.
Cameron, student body president, explained some of her feelings in her address that night. “In a little less than three months, my fellow students and I will attend our first day in high school,” she said, pausing.
“And I’m not ready.”
Transitions are tough. But as older folks know, life goes on. And as principal Jared Savage clearly explained in his comments, this class of 2019 Spartans is perhaps among the best suited to go out and make its mark economically and socially on society.
In other words, Fairmont kids are ready.
“Just listen to this lineup,” Savage said prior to reeling off an extensive list of accomplishments that included everything athletics and cattle roping to world class academics.
“Engineering is male dominated,” Savage said at one point. “Fairmont is in the process of changing that.”
The event took place on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day in 1944 when allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to preserve the free world. One man in the audience wore a shirt that proudly proclaimed the connection, likely sparking the reason for my mentioning it in this story.
Those soldiers fought for future generations epitomized by the likes of Cameron and Guzman, young people with bright futures and a desire to excel at whatever they choose to do.
“What matters most is how we respond to life’s adversity and challenges,” Savage said.
The school’s four valedictorians — Zack Davis, Serenity Vang, Leah Tillotson and Jason Poole — also addressed their fellow students and the audience.
“At this school I’ve founds some of the best people I’ve known,” Davis said. “The teachers here really care. It’s amazing how they make a personal connection.
“The spirit of Fairmont will forever be with us.”
Vang said there were times when she lost focus, but teachers and family provided the help and guidance she needed. “I’ve overcome many obstacles,” she said, adding that she persevered. “We’ve worked extremely hard to get where we are today. Every second, every minute, every hour counts.”
Tillotson said she arrived at Fairmont in the sixth grade, wondering if she could find someone to talk to. She did, she said. And that led to many experiences over the subsequent several years. “I learned to invest in my school work,” she said. “For me this meant endless hours of dedication.”
Poole quoted Abraham Lincoln. “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm,” he said. And he also talked about how even at their age, he and his classmates have lived through dramatic social change. Then he expressed a little dry Poole humor mentioning Baby Shark.
“This class has many great accomplishments,” Poole said.
Cameron said she will do her best to support others. “If I see something that needs to be fixed, I’ll go out and fix it,” she said as people began to leave after the ceremony. And of her classmates she said, “I absolutely adore them. They’re so bright.”