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Graduation has students reflecting and looking towards the future
grad bella kern
Graduations, with all the pomp and circumstance, including Pitman's Bella Kern, were back and celebrated all over Turlock on Thursday and Friday. - photo by Candy Padilla
Turlock and Pitman High Schools celebrated a return to traditional graduations this year. With the pandemic and ever changing landscape of high school, these students have been through a lot and are excited to face whatever the next step of their lives will be.

“I’ve been dreaming about doing the graduation speech since freshman year, but when they canceled graduation sophomore year I thought I might have to put my dream on hold,” said Pitman graduation speaker Bella Kern. “My dream was always to leave a legacy in high school, and giving the graduation speech puts a cap on that.”

The graduation speeches have a variety of themes, but they all want to reflect on their time together and take the lessons learned to be successful after high school.

“Our class really came together over COVID and we’re really close knit,” said Turlock graduation speaker Kate Ogden. “We weren’t together during the pandemic and it’s great to come back together this year and finish things off.”

“My theme is based around the choices we make in life and how those choices affect the future,” said Kern. “It’s up to us what our choice will be, I want this to be inspirational and reminiscent of our time.”

This year’s group of graduates are the first returning to a full ceremony since the pandemic. From having to go through distance learning, to cancellation of sports and other activities and many more sacrifices, these students are ready to move on from the disruptions to the next chapter of their lives.

“Sometimes it’s okay when things change,” said Ogden. “With COVID and learning online, sometimes it’s okay because you learn from it. It’s about the people you hang out with. My growth this year was about the people I spent time with and surrounded myself with.”

As these students get ready to move on to the next phase of their lives, they are looking to take the lessons learned in high school and share those experiences with students still in school.

“Live your life and don’t focus so much on the drama,” said Kern. “There’s so much life after high school and so much more life to live.”

“Sign up for stuff and don’t be afraid to get involved in school activities,” said Ogden. “Don’t think it’s lame, I grew so much participating in stuff at school.”

As somewhat of a final message, students should look forward to the days ahead, because high school was just a stop in the long journey of life ahead.

“This is just the beginning of our lives,” said Kern. “We have so much life left to live and in the long run the four years we have spent here is not as significant as we think they are at the moment. This is the end of one chapter in an entire book.”

grad kate ogden
Graduations, with all the pomp and circumstance, including Turlock's Kate Ogden, were back and celebrated all over Turlock on Thursday and Friday.