Congratulations, Thomas Jefferson High School Class of 2024

Adorned in light blue caps and gowns, the Thomas Jefferson High School class of 2024 received their diplomas and turned their tassels on May 25.

The 250 graduates entered smiling and waving as they sat and prepared to walk across the stage.

Class president Jesse Escamilla opened by welcoming guests and his fellow classmates and thanking a physics professor who helped him during his time at the school. Escamilla mused that “the birds fly, the river flows, and the leaves fall” when encouraging his class to “embrace change” wherever they end up.

Following Escamilla, school principal Benjamin Jones took the stage. Jones, as principal for the last three years, thanked the faculty, staff, and students themselves for “sticking it out” with not only him but the school itself. The students, forced to Zoom through classes and switch campuses due to the October 2019 tornado, proved their loyalty and perseverance.

Addressing the students, Jones went on to say that “not only did you choose to stick it out, you chose to strive.” The graduating class broke multiple records including the number of students who applied to a four-year college and the number of scholarships received. More than 90% of the class chose to apply to a four-year college or university and the class received $29,621,197 in scholarships. The news was met with applause and cheers for the highly successful class dedicated to raising the bar.

Before the salutatorian was introduced, Jones closed with an inspirational Beyonce quote: “Keep running, ‘cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.”

Both the salutatorian and valedictorian built their speeches around pieces of media, from a Nickelodeon show to an award-winning film.

Salutatorian Jorge Miranda spoke next and opened with, “I want to be one of the greats,” a quote from the movie Whiplash. He encouraged his audience to “let the words be more than just a quote from a movie” and to instead be a reminder of the greatness his class has within them. He went on to say that “greatness is not measured by the heights we reach but the depth of our character” before thanking his family, friends, and “of course: the band.” Miranda plans to attend Colorado College and study musical education.

After a brief musical performance from the school’s band, the valedictorian Amy Lopez was introduced and welcomed up. Lopez, who plans to attend the University of Southern California and study pharmacology and drug development, hopes to stop the next global pandemic through her studies.

Lopez’s speech continued the trend of media references by speaking the theme song to Nickelodeon show Big Time Rush. After a brief explanation of the television show and how it connects to her, Lopez addressed her class and told them, “I am proud of what we have accomplished. I am proud of you. I am proud of all of us.” After discussing how her class has overcome the numerous challenges presented to them, and grown closer amidst a socially challenging time, she concluded her speech with more Big Time Rush words of wisdom: “Don’t look back, don’t hesitate when you go big time.”

The last speaker, newly elected District 1 trustee Lance Currie, opened by thanking his predecessor Edwin Flores who previously spoke at graduations. Currie told the seniors to know that they are “well loved” and to know they are not alone on their new journey. Pointing to the teachers in the audience, Currie reminded the class to always think of the support they received at the school and know it will always be there for them.

The graduating class went on to receive their diplomas and cross the stage before singing the alma mater and solidifying themselves as Thomas Jefferson alum.

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