University High School graduates march onto the football field at the Wool Bowl during commencement ceremonies, Thursday evening. Mark Wilson Photo
University High School students celebrated milestones and looked to future achievements Thursday at the Wool Bowl, in the school’s 28th commencement ceremony. Guest speakers were UHS alumni Chad Cole and Valerie Lopez, who each focused on the unlimited potential of the Class of 2012 as the graduates approach new beginnings.
“Tonight is a celebration of your achievement and hard work to make it here. And you’ve made it this far,” Cole said. “And maybe, if you’ve made it this far, perhaps you can visualize a path to go even farther. …
“I believe it is arrogance that leads us all to fall, each and every time. But I believe that it is pride, pride in ourselves, pride in each other, which raises the entire group to new heights.
“I believe it is this kind of pride that comes from a job well done. Pride in our community, and pride in those who make it work. A sense of pride in our own families and our own unique traditions.
“I believe that you will find that the very best among us take great pride not only in themselves, but even greater pride in the special talents and gifts of those who they choose to surround themselves with.
“This is the kind of pride that leads the entire group to the kind of achievement that we are celebrating here for you tonight.”
Lopez began her address with some trivia about UHS, sharing how the original name of the school was Nuevo Comienzo High School, which translates to “new beginnings.” She said the school’s original mascot was a matador, and compared the art of bullfighting to the fight to stay in school — a fight that graduates won.
“I believe (the school) has matured into a bona fide high school, with a great reputation, and open to all those who desire to go to school despite their problems. …
“Everyone struggles. Did you know Michael Jordan didn’t give up, even though he didn’t make the basketball team when he was a sophomore in high school? He continued to practice his game, and he made the basketball team his senior year. He went on to play basketball for college and professionally, and you know, he’s known as the best athlete in the world — all because he wouldn’t give up.
“Please hear me when I say, you can do whatever you put your mind to. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to earn a degree to call yourselves successful. Your success will be custom-made by you. I’m just here to give you the message that you can do whatever you put your mind to.
“I know my life would be completely different had I not worked hard to finish high school — even finish college for that matter. I know this much right now: Your life will be different just because you are finishing high school. I am here to hopefully inspire you to create a success plan for your life, and I want you to be brave to accomplish it, no matter what you do.”