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Another View: Hillmen Pride richly deserved

Another View
By: Peter Efstathiu, Placer High School principal
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Placer High Principal Peter Efstathiu gave the following speech during the Class of 2010 graduation: Parents, families, students and Placer staff, welcome to the 111th graduation commencement ceremony of Placer High School. I would like to thank school board president Mo Ward and assistant superintendent of business services, Doug Marquand, for joining us today on this memorable occasion. I am proud to say I am finishing my second year as principal at Placer High School and am experiencing many lasting memorable moments. Before you seniors begin to moan and groan about some old man reminiscing, indulge me as I attempt to prove to you the importance of occasions like today and how memories you have experienced these last four years play an important role in building and shaping the person you are to become. It was the beginning of the school year and we just finished the first two weeks, when we were all shocked and devastated by a fire that wiped out neighborhoods, left several of our families homeless and literally put a gray cloud over the city of Auburn and Placer High School. But when did you ever know a Hillman to be held down for long? Within days after the 49 blaze, hundreds of students rallied around the leadership class at Placer and their instructor, Jonathan Adams, to host an event filled with food, music and a spectacular volleyball game featuring the Placer Superheroes and the Girls volleyball PVL league championship team. I will never forget the families at Placer who were directly affected by the fire and how they persevered. But to prove my point to you about memorable moments, it was the proud feeling I experienced knowing that Placer students and two of our very own seniors, Clarisse Bankus and Olivia Coder, were the driving force in the organization of the food and music. And who is ever going to forget the memorable picture of Mrs. Chamberlain in her Supergirl suit on the front page of the Auburn Journal, and in color no less? Still not convinced about the power of memorable moments, let me move on. Placer has now completed a three-peat when it comes to the Pioneer Valley All-Sports award, the award given to the school with the most success in league play, cross country, track, wrestling, girls volleyball, I could go on. But let me tell you about a few memories that make it for me. My football prowess may not be as strong as coach Montoya’s, but I enjoy a great game just as much as the next person. And the game at Whitney this year was one for the books. We were down early, and you could feel the level of nervousness rise among Placer fans in the bleachers. But when I saw Asher Gotzmer come flying out of the backfield and this perfectly thrown Colin Burnett pass headed his way, the feeling was euphoric. And to this day I swear Asher was talking to the defender, and I am pretty sure it was something like, “Later, I am headed for six.” Then, of course, there was the spectacular overtime win against Colfax in their house this year. But my feel-good moment; James Taber, the man was on fire that game and that first 40 seconds in OT, that is all I need to say about that game. Now tell me you don’t have a warm fuzzy going on right now. OK so not all of you, then I will continue. Snow days, remember those. Well many of the past graduates do not have snow day memories because apparently you need a principal from the flatland to bring them to you. Not just one, but now a new record of three in just two years. And you wonder why our snowboard and ski teams are just awesome. I think a few boarders were shredding on Mr. Faulkner’s driveway for practice. Then there is one of my all-time favorites, the first annual Gold Mine Scholarship. For the past several years, a kind and thoughtful friend of Placer High, has given generously to Placer High School students. And this year was no exception. Four Placer seniors were awarded the Gold Mine Scholarship, splitting evenly $10,000, and for me, the hugs I received from Sahmend Aceves and from Alan Shanley’s mom will be with me forever. And there is more, the ladies of the Friends of Placer High School who received generous donations from several local businesses to put on a spectacular grad night tonight, Olivia Pedersen thanking me for coming out to watch the snowboard team at Squaw Valley. Kevin Roy and Paige Rothe stopping me this week just to tell me thanks for doing a great job. And these are just some of the many great memories that I will cherish. I cannot name them all, someone will take the microphone from me. But here is the kicker, those memories were not created by me, they were created by you. In a time when the economy is in the tank, unemployment is high, and possibly you are anxious about where your future will take you, remember it is those great memories and moments that you have created and shared with each other that you must hang on to. Use them to build your future and know that there are many more to come. I believe that the glass is half-full, that there is always a silver lining and that there is good in all people. People will not always remember what you said, people will not always remember what you did, but people will always remember how you made them feel. It is because of you seniors that I love coming to work every day. It is because of you seniors that the Class of 2010 is one of the best. It is because of you seniors that in the best of times, in the worst of times, at all times, it is great to be a Hillman.