Graduates make mark

As a new graduate of Oak Harbor High School’s Class of 2005, Karl Mendoza has made a mark in his family’s history.

“I’m the first Mendoza to graduate,” he said, between hugs from family members and congratulations from friends after the Oak Harbor High School graduation commencement ceremony, Monday evening.

Reveling in his grandson’s accomplishments, Amado Mendoza stands by his grandson’s side and wipes the tears from his eyes.

“He’s pretty happy,” Mendoza said, speaking for his grandfather who doesn’t speak very much English.

Mendoza added that his whole family is excited for him, and his step-mother, Sharon Mendoza, affirmed that she and Mendoza’s father were indeed proud of Mendoza’s accomplishments.

“We’re proud of him like all parents,” she said.

Mendoza, along with approximately 370 other seniors, graduated from Oak Harbor High School Monday. These graduates and their families celebrated years of education, accomplishments, struggles and growth during the high school’s graduation ceremony.

“We should all be very proud of ourselves,” graduate Christine Wans said to the Class of 2005. “Graduating high school is one of the most important memories, and some of us, frankly, thought this day would never come.”

Graduate Elizabeth Henrichsen said she felt as if high school was going to last forever. But now that she is done, she said she can’t believe it.

“I’m finally done, and I’m so very excited,” she said.

Henrichsen said she had fun in high school, but that it was a lot of work. She said the best advice anyone gave her in high school was to “work hard.” And she said if she could give any advice to the senior class of 2006, it is to “do your best and it will end soon enough.”

Senior Kristi Goebel, valedictorian, quoted that the place which may seem like the end, is in fact the beginning of a new journey.

“Today signifies the end of our high school days, but it is also the beginning of a new life,” she said to the Class of 2005.

Like Henrichsen, who wants to become a teacher and work in education, and Mendoza who wants to go into the U.S Air Force and later go to school and become an engineer, many of the seniors have big hopes and dreams which they will work toward now that they are out of high school.

“It’s finally over and I’m excited to start a new life,” Mendoza said.

And for those graduates who still have no idea what they will do with their lives, graduate Lauren Acton gave them advice and encouragement.

“Class of 2005, take the initiative - the opportunities out there for us are endless,” she said.

But for all graduates, certain of their next step or not, Monday evening was a time to celebrate work accomplished, goals met and moments treasured, amidst the proud and happy faces of loved ones and the congratulations of friends, family, teachers and fellow graduates.

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