The heat may have been on for most of the day at Tim Knight field in Battle Mountain, but the 69 graduates of the Battle Mountain high School Class of 2022 were cool as cucumbers, as the sun set for them one final time as they came together as a group in front of a full house of family, friends, teachers and administrators.
After the national anthem by the BMHS choir, Senior Class President Krysta Lemaire had the opening welcoming remarks. Lemaire also had the final words of the night, as she instructed the class in the moving of the tassels.
Battle Mountain principal John Stern, who came to the school when this class started their freshman year, is leaving with them as well. He will be going back to take a position in the Washoe County School District in Incline.
“It has been an honor to share in this journey with you for the last four years,” Stern told the class. “I met you here your freshman year and now like many of you, I am moving on to a different path in life. It is fitting that we take this step together after we have gone through so many challenges in the past few years. If there is one thing this graduating class knows, it’s that change is unavoidable.”
He told the class the most important investment they can make is the people that will share the journey with them. He told them positive relationships are a key when the world feels cold and uncaring.
“My relationship with you the students, made every sacrifice during Covid worth it,” Stern said. All the bad days worth it — so thank you. Many of you had to fight incredibly hard for this diploma. I want to remind you that no one and nothing can ever take this accomplishment away from you. You should be proud of your accomplishment. I have seen that investment and hard work first hand.”
Stern honored Aydan Samuelson as the class salutatorian and Aidan Gilbert was selected as the 2022 valedictorian.
“It is an honor to be standing in front of you as the salutatorian of the class,” Samuelson said. “Honestly, I expected the last time I would be speaking to guys is when I gave the speech in front of the secretary of state. It is kind of funny that I ended up being salutatorian, as I am the only other kid in our class named Aiden. Like coach Domagala said, you can’t have one Aydan without the other one. That has been pretty true for most of our lives, whether we were on the field or in the classroom.”
Samuelson told the graduates that it was the first night of the rest of their lives. Even though the class is going their separate ways, Samuelson hoped they would think each other as a family.
“Whether you have been in the family since day one or you just joined, I hope we made you feel welcome,” he said. “Welcome to this very, very dysfunctional family of ours that is the Class of 2022. This family may or may have not done some questionable things, as school will never be the same, but we knew to have fun. I hope all the memories we made will stick with you guys as we get older. We may not have been here for a long time, but we were here for a good time.”
He thanked the teachers for all they did and being the second parents to the class and said adopting 69 kids is a rough thing to do.
“I want to leave you guys with two things,” Samuelson said. “One, always make sure the juice is worth the squeeze and you can take that however you may. And lastly, do not follow where the path may lead but go instead where there is no path and leave your own trail. Right now, there is a 104 days of summer vacation and the real world is coming along just to end it. It has been an amazing four years and I thank each and every one of you for making that possible. Know I could not have done it without you.”
Gilbert had three words for the Class of 2022 — Veni, Vidi, Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered). Those words we made famous by Julius Caesar.
“After four years we have finally conquered high school,” he told the class. “We put in the work, turned in our assignments, passed the tests and here we are now. It may have been hard at times and we might have felt like giving up, but we continued to push through it. However, now it’s time to step out of this world and into another one — ready to conquer again.”
Gilbert noted that Caesar may have been a conqueror but was also a great leader and told the graduates it is now their turn to be leaders in their own way in different walks of life. He added they could be leaders in different ways.
“Being a leader can not only improve your life but being a good leader can improve the lives around you,” Gilbert said. I should be sure to mention that we shouldn’t be exactly like Julius Caesar, especially on the Ides of March.”
Gilbert told the class wherever life decides to take them they will all do great things. He noted it will be hard at times and even impossible. He added to be patient and with enough time and effort anything is possible. He told the class they will never be alone and help is out there.
“It’s impossible for you to do everything and everyone of us, at some point in time, needs help from a friend,” Gilbert said. “I truly hope that everyone of us finds something they are passionate about and truly love to pursue in life. I also hope we can find it within ourselves to lift those around us. When people are in search of that friend in need, I hope you can be that friend to help. Also of course, I hope we all make butt loads of money.”
He thanked all of the parents, teachers and coaches that helped the class out and thanked them for putting up with them for four years, noting they didn’t make it easy on them at times.
“I can’t wait to see where we all go and what we do in this big world,” Gilbert said. “It’s scary but exciting at the same time. But that is a good thing, because if it wasn’t, then it wouldn’t be important. Thank you for an amazing four years and I hope we all can stay in touch and continue to be one great big family.”