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Chester High School graduates 35

The Chester Progressive of Chester, California

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The Chester High School graduating Class of 2015 led the commencement ceremony in the school's sports field June 12 to a large crowd of family and friends.

Standing at the podium, senior Caleb Gallegos offered a dedication to outgoing music teacher Jane Brown, who directed the Chester High School band at the ceremony in a rendition of John Williams' "Raiders March" and the "CHS Alma Mater."

"For the past 3-1/2 years at Chester High, I've truly looked forward to going to band class," Gallegos said, "not only because I love music, but because we have one of the finest and most truly talented band teachers I've ever had the privilege of knowing, Mrs. Brown."

Principal Jeff James then invited Valedictorian Rebecca Branch to address the audience and the 35 graduating students.

"It's hard to imagine those of us sitting on this stage today getting ready to go our separate ways after four years together," Branch began. "We're nervous and excited, but prepared and although we'll no longer be together every day, we'll all cherish the memories that we created and the laughs and the smiles that we shared" Referring to the famous baseball legend Babe Ruth, Branch, an avid softball player, quoted: "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."

There are times, she said, when you're at the bat when a strikeout will be completely out of your hands.

"However, I've found that it's not the strikeout that defines who you are; it's how you react."

Branch said, "Whatever you decide to do, whether you choose to go to college, into the workforce or join the military, give it your best and don't let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game."

Please remember, she added, "Have no fear, and persevere, for every strikeout brings you closer to the next home run."

This year, graduates Quinton Wilkinson and Lanee Hanson shared salutatorian honors.

Wilkinson also used a sports metaphor to compare life's many challenges.

Quoting the great golfer Arnold Palmer, Wilkinson said that, like life, "Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated."

"What I have to say to the graduating Class of 2015 is enjoy your own golf game and shoot for a hole-in-one every single day of your life."

Hannah Edwards, Meagan Garrett, Julie Peterson and Cortney Working gave the senior speeches.

Edwards and Garrett delivered short, lighthearted and often amusing descriptions or anecdotes of their classmates to wild cheers and laughter.

Peterson said, "It is from the support of my friends and family that I have found strength in the world and reason to keep my head high as I continue to work for the future goals I hope to achieve."

She continued, "The truth is that the future is now, with each day bringing new opportunities for success."

Peterson said people must learn to stop waiting for the right time to come in order to act, but instead to make the most of what we have in the present moment.

She quoted American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are only tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

Next, Working stepped up to the podium and said, "It seems like only yesterday we walked into the seventh-grade hallway, totally nervous and clueless as to how to get from one end of the school to the other. The year 2015 seemed so far away. And yet here we are, ready to graduate and take on the world ahead of us."

Graduating can leave one with an uneasy feeling, Working admitted, mostly because "we're leaving behind the safety and security of high school for the uncertainty and adventure that will begin the rest of our lives."

Ashley Clarke offered a parent thank-you speech and officiated the presentation of roses, with graduates handing out flowers to their parents in appreciation of their love and support.

Principal James then gave the presentation of the Class of 2015, before handing out diplomas with the assistance of school secretary Cheryl Henry and Paul Hardig.

After the recessional, ecstatic grads tossed their graduation caps into the sky amid loud cheers and rounds of applause.

Scholastic awards

The Golden State Seal Merit Diploma, based on excellent STAR test scores throughout high school, went to Rebecca Branch, Hannah Edwards, Sara Gannon, Lanee Hansen, Eddie Perez, Albert Templeton, Jeremiah White and Quinton Wilkinson.

The California Scholarship Federation Awards 100 percent members are Rebecca Branch, Hannah Edwards, Lanee Hansen, Allison House and Quinton Wilkinson. CSF life members are Ashley Clarke, Lily Kenyon, Eddie Perez, Julie Peterson, Albert Templeton and Jeremiah White. CSF members are Corin Houlihan, Audra MacDonald, Wyatt Durkin, Megan Garrett and Chad Ragan. Recipients receive the gold cord honor and seal bearer status.

Chester/Lake Almanor Booster scholarships: $500 each to Rebecca Branch and Eddie Perez.

Almanor Fishing Association: $1,000 to Quinton Wilkinson.

Lake Almanor Elks No. 2626: Total of $11,800 to Alyssa Ayers, Albert Templeton, Rebecca Branch, Michael Harris, Eddie Perez and Quinton Wilkinson.

Jane O'Brien Memorial Scholarship: $750 to Alyssa Ayers.

Brian Johnson Memorial Scholarship: $500 to Eddie Perez.

Outstanding Senior Project Awards: Ashley Clarke, Audra MacDonald, Jer White, Javier Contreras, Joseph James, Robert Heffley, Dakota Strand, Allison House, Lily Kenyon, Quinton Wilkinson, Brett Perry, Alyssa Ayers, Rebecca Branch, Hannah Edwards, Julie Peterson and Israel Fernandez.

American School Counselor Association: Eddie Perez.

CHS Alumni Association Scholarship: three $1,000 awards, in honor of Mrs. Bing Miller: Eddie Perez; in honor of Mr. Sypher: Albert Templeton; in honor of Mr. Adamson: Jeremiah White.

California Waterfowl Association: $250 to Megan Garrett and Eddie Perez.

Seneca Auxiliary Medical Scholarship: $400 to Rebecca Branch.

Almanor Scholarship/Collins Pine Co.: $1,800 each to Rebecca Branch, Wyatt Durkin, Lanee Hansen, Albert Templeton, Lily Kenyon, Eddie Perez, Julie Peterson and Jeremiah White.

Lassen College Foundation Scholarship: $3,000 each to Joseph James, Javier Contreras and Michael Harris.

Plumas-Sierra CattleWomen: $1,000 to Eddie Perez.

Sons of Italy Western Foundation: $1,000 to Rebecca Branch.

Chester Lions Club Scholarship: $750 to Allison House, Albert Templeton and Eddie Perez.

Northern California Scholarship Foundation: $8,000 to Rebecca Branch.

Chester High School Parent Teacher Student Association Scholarships: $250 to Megan Garrett and Allison House.

University and foundation awards

Sonoma State University Presidential Scholar Award: $1,000 to Rebecca Branch.

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Original Publication Date: June 17, 2015

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