Jones, Jastillana lead senior class
A total of 335 Marianas High School seniors in blue gowns filled the outdoor stage on their campus for the last time as students and the first time as alumni last Thursday. A roaring crowd greeted the graduates of the largest high school in the CNMI.
School principal Cherlyn Cabrera welcomed the graduates, their families, friends, and community members to the ceremony, which was held outdoors after the school’s gym was damaged by Typhoon Soudelor.
“You are a gift to the world,” she told the students. “Your last year started with the worst storm in recent time. All of you have survived and thrived through unexpected difficulties.”
She encouraged the graduates to “go as fast” as they can after graduation. “Go as fast as your legs can carry you, not because I want to see you go, because we will miss you, but because I have faith that today’s your launching day, the day that you are launched into your great destiny,” she added.
Education Commissioner Dr. Rita Sablan, Board of Education chair Herman Guerrero, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), PSS key management, Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, and other dignitaries joined the community in celebrating the students’ achievement.
Dr. Sablan explained that the students have inspired the administration to work harder in providing quality public education.
“Whatever way you’re headed I wish you the very best. Because of the great minds that you have you really have inspired us to continue to be strong and do the best that we can to provide quality public education,” she said.
She noted that 40 percent of the students will pursue higher education at the Northern Marianas College, 31 percent are employed, 25 percent will pursue education in the mainland, and 3 percent will join the armed forces.
Long-time educator, former MHS teacher, and Gold’s Gym general manager, Tyce Mister, addressed the students as the keynote speaker.
“When things get rough, you are not alone, even though at times it may feel like it…you have family, friends, teachers, all behind you in your trials and tribulations,” he said. “Undoubtedly, you have gone out your way to help someone in need this year,” he added, referring to the build-up after Typhoon Soudelor.
He challenged the students to be positive and proactive. “You have everything you need to be successful since its you. The power and light is in you,” he said.
In her address, valedictorian Emily Lisa Jones explained that moving to MHS from a small private school was “the best decision of my life.”
“This school has given me an abundance of memories and opportunities that I would not have been able to receive anywhere else,” she explained. “When you look past the big buildings and somewhat intimidating siren, you find a diverse student body that illustrates brilliance, culture, and talent.”
Jones encouraged her peers to seek their passion and pursue it wholeheartedly.
“I am very proud to be a part of such a versatile capable group of young individuals and I hope you use this evening’s achievement as the first step in your journey to reaching success,” she added.
For her part, salutatorian Lee Ann Jastillana spoke of her perseverance in overcoming adversity throughout her life.
“Failure has always something to be feared but as we exit the campus today we need to understand that failure is necessary to yield success,” she fervently told her peers on stage.
She added, “We’ve all experience how it is like to fail and feel like it is the end of the world, however that ruth of the matter is that failure is not something we should be afraid of. We have all conquered failure. Sitting in cap and gowns ready to graduate is living proof that we have.”
“Choose to be optimistic. Choose to be resilient. Choose to be courageous,” she urged her classmates.
Jones received the Board of Education Award, while Jastillana was awarded the Commissioner of Education award. Both students were recipients of the inaugural Lt. Governor’s academic award.
Student Council president Angela Aninon was presented the Governor’s Leadership award for her outstanding service in school and the community. Jose Valdez Rabago Jr. received the Principal’s award.
The Top 10 students were recognized as well. Alexandria Vergara was ranked 10, followed by Maria Castro, Jun Young Kim, Angela Aninon, Charlene Lubong, Edna Grace Nisola, Do Hyeon Kwon, Masrur Alam, Lee Ann Jastillana, and Emily Lisa Jones.
The graduates concluded their ceremony with a riveting performance of “We’re all in this together” from the movie High School Musical. The graduation theme was “We’re on Our Way.”