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Seniors start their new lives

Friday?s graduation was to a packed house
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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A nervous and excited buzz was evident at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Lincoln High School?s ?old gym.? That?s because the old gym was the staging area for the senior class of 2012 before students made their way through campus to the school stadium to become official high school graduates. Graduation at 7 p.m. was before a packed stadium of parents, family members and friends, as well as Lincoln High School teachers and Western Placer Unified School District school board members and administrators. Prior to making the walk to the football field that can be seen symbolically as the start to the rest of their lives, The News Messenger asked seniors what the future would bring them and how they felt about graduating. Allyson Koehler, 18, said she?ll be headed to Sierra College to play golf for at least a year and then to University of California at Davis to study animal science and business. ?I?m going to miss everyone but I?m very excited about having freedom,? Koehler said. Erica Ojeda, 18, said she?s ?excited about starting my life? and will attend Sierra College and then San Francisco State University to ?become a nurse practitioner.? For Efrain Zamora, 17, the June 8 commencement meant that he?s the ?first to graduate in my family,? which he said ?felt pretty good.? Zamora, who plans to major in psychology at William Jessup University, said he reached this milestone ?with all of the help from my family and friends.? ?Live it up and you only get to live once,? said Zamora, when asked what he?d like to say to fellow graduates. ?I hope for the best in the future and take every opportunity life throws at you.? Prior to the seniors receiving their diplomas, speeches were given by senior class president Kirstie McQueen, co-salutatorians Zachary Snodgrass and Samantha Lindhardt, valedictorian Andrew Martinez and Lincoln High School principal Jay Berns. MacQueen talked about how this year?s senior class ?truly became a family? even after being the ?second class to be joined together after separating into two middle schools. ?The separation and merging didn?t do anything to break us apart,? MacQueen said. ?We?ve grown as a class. As freshmen, we were strangers and now we?re this big crazy family.? Although the class of 2012 will head to different schools with different mascots, MacQueen said, ?We?ll always be Zebras.? Snodgrass talked social, cultural and pop-cultural changes that took place during the class?s high school career. ?We waited in line for the ?Harry Potter? midnight showing. We saw an untold number of people planking in every imaginable position,? Snodgrass said. ?As a group, we learned the new vocabulary of foreclosures, short sales, furloughs and pink slips. We watched as our parents hunkered down.? Snodgrass asked his fellow seniors to ?find joy in the pursuit of life and never chase for material gain.? ?May you live long and prosper,? Snodgrass said in closing. Lindhardt advised the senior class to not ?let other people?s opinions to keep you from living life.? ?Never give up. I remember, as a kid, when someone tells you that you can?t do something,? Lindhardt said. ?When I was 10, I couldn?t ride a bike. I practiced a lot and fell down a lot, and pretty soon, I was riding without my training wheels. I never would have been able to get over the fear of falling if I had given up.? Martinez advised his fellow graduates to ?learn from your mistakes and learn from the mistakes of others.? ?Life is 10 percent what happens to you,? Martinez said. ?You are not in control of what happens to you but your attitude.? Berns gave what he called ?baldies words of wisdom.? ?You are the students who aren?t afraid of failure,? Berns said. ?Life is about choices. You made a choice that has put you in the right position to contemplate decisions.? Berns said that he ?know you will be successful in life.? ?Don?t think because you are graduating, that school or learning is over,? Berns said. ?You will be learning your whole life. You will face adversity. Life is about what you do after you?ve been knocked down.? Following graduation, the seniors were joined on the field by proud parents, family members and friends.? ?I?m very proud of him,? Justin Ginder said of his son, Trevor Ginder. ?I hope he succeeds in life.? Naomi Diaz expressed similar feelings about her son, Matthew Diaz, who will head to California State University at Sacramento in the fall. ?He?s the first to graduate out of the family. He did it with the support and help of everyone,? Naomi Diaz said. ?I?m so proud and this is just the beginning.?