The Quincy Jr./Sr. High School band, led by Director Siobhan Markee, played into the early summer evening Friday, June 14, as 33 graduating seniors began their processional march in red and white caps and gowns on the football field at Feather River College.
Across the stage, a large banner proclaimed “QHS Just Did It!” and Senior Class President Sydney Addison Gott stepped up to assume her duties as master of ceremonies. She welcomed the crowd and introduced the 2019 QJSHS valedictorian, classmate Sylvia Ann Wood, who played the national anthem flawlessly on flute.
More than 300 guests rose for the moving tribute that was followed by a perfect rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb,” performed by Jessica Michelle Taborski. And later in the program, applause filled the arena for Renee Nicole Harding’s rousing performance of “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten and Wood’s encore appearance, this time on the electric keyboard, for Mendelssohn’s “Rondo Cappricioso” melody.
Each senior stood and bestowed a Trojan-red carnation upon someone who had helped them most during their high school careers. Many smiles rippled throughout the audience, a few tears, hugs and much laughter, too.
There was advice to be had before the diplomas were awarded by Plumas Unified School Board President Leslie Edlund, Trustee Dwight Pierson and QJSHS Principal Erin Mongiello.
Valedictorian Wood’s parents, Dave and Lucinda Wood, placed her honor medal about her shoulders and the top student exhorted her fellow graduates to think about who they want to be and what their ideal vision of the world is.
“Think about the legacy you want to leave,” Wood said from the podium. “The sooner we begin, the more time we have to work toward those goals. We’ll never make progress if we don’t begin. What will your legacy be?”
Salutatorian Samuel Christian Langdale, a tall fellow, made everyone laugh after petite Nancy Gambell put the honor medal over his head, slightly skewing his graduation cap.
“Is my hair good?” he asked and the crowd broke into guffaws. On a slightly more serious note, Langdale talked about all the challenges the Class of 2019 had overcome.
“Like when we had to enjoy our off-campus lunch time — and Portola couldn’t!” he said, smiling. “So be smart out there, find what makes you happy and pursue it. When life knocks you down, get back up and try harder!”
Teacher Randy Kelsch has inspired students for many years. Delivering the keynote address, and turning to lift his tie in assurance to the seniors that he does, actually own one, Kelsch echoed Langdale’s remarks about getting knocked down by life and shared his beloved baseball analogies.
“We thank our families for making it possible for all of us to be here tonight, and I thank mine for making it possible for me to be there for students all these years,” Kelsch said. “Yes, strikeouts in life hurt and make us want to run to the concession stand for a hotdog and a soda!”
He said striking out shows us how to improve so we learn and do better. It makes us home-run hitters.
“People on every team are doing it and some people are getting paid millions to strike out!” Kelsch said, rousing the crowd to laughter and cheers. “So show up and swing for the fences!”
Lastly, Principal Erin Mongiello took the stage, paused and smiled, then told the senior class she was proud of them. She will miss them, she said, and turned the program over to the trustees who congratulated the graduates and their families.
After the diplomas were awarded and the tassels were flipped, Quincy’s graduated Class of 2019 hurled their mortarboards into the Lost Sierra summer sky and the celebrating began in earnest. Congratulations everyone for a job well done!