Auburn's Placer High graduation pairs sentimentality, optimism

More than 300 graduates say goodbye to school in 113th annual commencement
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A light wind whisked Placer High Class of 2012 mortarboards higher in the air Saturday during a graduation that paired sentimentality with optimism. This year?s class has 329 graduates and the ceremony at the Auburn high school?s LeFebvre Stadium packed the stands with at least 2,000 family and friends. ?It?s a big moment because I?m going on to college after this and starting my adulthood,? graduate Jake Limon said. ?It really hasn?t hit me yet ? maybe when my friends move away.? For Jennifer Mumford, mother of 2012 grad Brittaney Bowen, the emotions flowed as spectators joined grads on the field to exchange hugs, hand out flowers, and exult in the moment. ?I am amazed,? Mumford said. ?It?s finally here. It seems like they grow up so fast. I?m really proud of her.? The ceremony included a humorous, inspiring welcome from Principal Peter Efstathiu, who told graduates that they were all ready for the challenge. ?Thank you for truly being an inspiration to me,? Efstathiu said. Efstathiu listed several accomplishments by the class, including garnering just more than $500,000 in scholarship money and capturing a fourth straight Pioneer Valley league sports award. ?My advice to you is you?re all too good to sweat the small stuff,? Efstathiu said. ?You have no reason to be afraid of what lies ahead of you. Those you encounter should be afraid of you.? Rachel Roskelley, senior class president, called on classmates to strive for great things. ?Let us, as a generation, be the ones known to have made a difference,? Roskelley said. ?Graduation is not an ending but a beginning to the rest of our lives. "Thank you family friends for always being there pushing us to be our best and loving and supporting us the whole way.? The ceremony continued traditions at Placer High, some of which date back a century or more. One of the oldest schools in the region, Placer was holding its 113th annual commencement. Senior Choir members led the ceremony in the National Anthem. Student body treasurer Amanda Matthews led the Pledge of Allegiance. The combined choir sang the Beatles song ?In My Life.? Abigail Myrick and Jasmine Edwards performed Sarah McLachlan?s ?I Will Remember You.? Class of 2012 valedictorians Lara Albrecht, Cameron Brown, Christen Buetz, Rebecca Feis, Kristen Hiatt, Zachary Lucas, Paige Maberry, Gabriella Orteza and Hannah Zimmerman provided a rhymed address ?Dr. Seuss? style about how they missed some key high school experiences as they worked hard to fulfill their own dreams. And when the diplomas had all been handed out and the tassels turned, graduates joined together to sing their school alma mater song and throw their hats high into a strikingly azure-blue Auburn sky. The world was waiting out the stadium gates.