The 655 Franklin Cougar graduates spread across their very own football field on Wednesday ready to walk the stage and claim their diploma for what will be the first-ever commencement on home turf for the West Side school.
The class, led by valedictorian Yuko Isabel Ward and salutatorian Shakila Edalatpour, took in nearly $16 million in scholarships. Most notable is the prestigious QuestBridge Scholarship awarded to Laurine Kim, who will attend Vassar College on a full ride.
Remarks kept focus on their theme: “Today is the tomorrow we dreamt about yesterday.”
“We stand, gathered together to celebrate the accomplishments of the most resilient class in the history of secondary education,” said Edalatpour. “These days have passed by much too quickly, it’s almost impossible to believe that we’ll be in college the next semester we step into a classroom. These times have been uncertain, and it’s okay to say that we truly have been robbed of the best time of our lives.”
On a lighter note, she added: “I speak on behalf of all of us that when we said, ‘Senior Ditch Day’ – this is not what we meant.”
Ward reminisced about her days on campus, and how the events and obstacles helped them grow over their four years.
“Through it all, we learned and grew into the people we are today,” Ward said. “Every minor inconvenience, every challenge overcome, every good memory has shaped us. When we leave here today, our high school career is truly behind us. We will face new challenges. And, as we learned to do in high school, we will succeed.”
Also speaking during commencement were All Franklin Boy Fabian Ramirez and All Franklin Girl Summer Sullivan. Senior class president Lauren Menchaca led the tassel turning ceremony, encouraging her classmates to toss their carnation in the air to symbolize their official end to high school.
“We did it,” she said.