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By San Juan Hills High School Principal Jennifer Smalley

Trustee (Jim) Reardon, Superintendent (Kirsten) Vital, former principals, parents, staff and most importantly Class of 2018, welcome to your graduation day! As I sat and reflected on the Class of 2018, one word came to mind, over and over again—passion. I can confidently say that the Class of 2018 is one of the most passionate classes ever to walk the quad at San Juan Hills High School. Passion means many different things. For this class, passion means motivation to achieve your goals. Passion means intense enthusiasm for each other and our school. Passion means a compelling desire to change the world. Passion is what identifies the class of 2018.

According to Anna Moneymaker, “San Juan Hills is a school of pioneers. The rough and tumble of the mild Southern Californian wilderness inspired in us an ability to brave the world in all its fer-o-city, and to be unafraid of the unknown.” As a school of pioneers, you have braved the world of high school with intense enthusiasm for each other.

The Class of 2018 is full of close friends and relationships. Even after you leave this place and form new relationships, you’ll never forget the bonds you formed with the Class of 2018. As Noah Lahey put it, when he first came to San Juan Hills, “I moved into a family, and I no longer felt like a fish out of water. I felt like I belonged, and that I had support.” Anam Faruqi said it best, “We truly made our mark on this school. We supported each other and never left anyone in the dust. That’s a class. That’s a family. That’s senior nation.”

The Class of 2018 also stood out for your pride in our school. ASB president Bri Rodriguez remembered, “It wasn’t until this year—graduation year—that our student section at football games went completely insane. We cheered on our team to the point of hearing loss.” That student section was really something—and it didn’t just exist at football games. I saw countless examples of Stallions supporting each other at school events this year—we had passionate cheering sections at basketball games, musicals, water polo games and pep rallies. Madison Bowen, our senior class president shared, “These are the moments along our journey that have really taught us about our destination—the feelings you can’t find in the books we’ve read or solved in a math equation.”

Finally, the Class of 2018 exhibited extraordinary passion when it comes to the world outside of San Juan Hills. Members of your class organized the largest high school voter registration in Orange County this year, solidifying your class’ status as a group of movers and shakers who want to change the world. You volunteered at animal shelters, retirement and homeless shelters, and raised money for human trafficking victims, our troops and disadvantaged children. You have a compelling desire not only to leave your mark on your school, but on the world beyond your school as well.

Because of all of this passion and enthusiasm, Sam Newman says that high school is where she “discovered happiness.” She calls high school her “coming-of-age story neatly wrapped in a four-year education.” And now, it is time to take what you’ve learned and apply it to life outside of high school. As Paulina Fawnes says, “Once again, our training wheels are about to be taken off. And all of us, no matter what path we take, will enter into a new world.” Even after you leave San Juan Hills, I encourage you to show passion and enthusiasm. Take that passion that you learned here and use it to change the world. As Dalton Bourne encourages, “Be kind. Laugh. Serve. Try new things. Remember that happiness might not always be a choice, but happier is—so make it.” You are equipped to walk confidently into your futures and to keep that passion alive no matter where you go, or what you do.

In closing, as Russell Lane puts it, “Doing what you love to do with the people who share the same passion is the biggest reward of all.” You will always have a home here at San Juan Hills High School, but we are so excited to see where your passion takes you into the future. Class of 2018, it’s time to show the world how to Ride for the Brand.  Best of luck and congratulations!

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