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River Valley seniors turn the tassel as graduates

May 19, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — Joshua Castrejon described his first few moments as a high school graduate as “weird” and “something special.”

He said his diploma from River Valley High School was evidence of 12 years of hard work.

“This moment is worth all the work,” said Castrejon, who now plans to find a job and start saving for college.

At Saturday morning’s graduation ceremony, class members described the last four years as shorter than expected, and filled with memories.

Class valedictorian Anna Grasso thanked RVHS faculty and staff, her parents, her brothers and her classmates and shared memories before addressing the future.

“The only thing ahead of us is a wealth of opportunities,” Grasso said.

Salutatorian Melissa Woodruff’s rhyming recap referenced a “junior year (that) was hard.”

“That research paper left us all scarred,” she said.

She also mentioned that some classmates will “go on to further their studies” and that others “will always be buddies.”

“Summer ’19 sure came really fast,” Woodruff concluded. “But the last four years were really bad ass.”

Salutatorian Amy Cervantes praised those who helped the Class of 2019 reach the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse stage, and appraised her classmates.

“As I look into the faces of all the people I’ve grown up with, in their caps and gowns, I can honestly say we really did make the most of it,” she said.

That’s what Cervantes expects the class to continue to do.

“Cherish the chapters of your own story,” she challenged her classmates. “No matter how intimidating or mysterious they may be. Soak up every moment — there will never be another like it.”

Math teacher Ivy Feldhausen, reading the faculty letter, expressed amazement at how far the Class of 2019 has come from the “confused but excited” ninth-graders who arrived in the fall of 2015.

“We want you to know that the journey of self-discovery is never complete,” Feldhausen said. She gave the newly minted graduates six tips for the rest of their lives: “there are no shortcuts to success,” “decide on something you are passionate about,” “set deadlines for yourselves and never procrastinate,” “honor your emotions,” “offer yourself to a cause bigger than you” and “be kind.”

Benje Hookstra, superintendent of the Colorado River Union High School District, urged the graduates to look back with gratitude, and thanked them for their positive impact on their families and schools.

“We hope you take the day to appreciate your family and the teachers you spent the last four years with,” he said. “But also the teachers you started off with in first grade and in second grade. Appreciate where each one of you has been and where you are going.”

Class of 2019 member Adriana Raymond’s welcome address was about saying goodbye and hello.

“We can’t stay in the past — even in the present,” she said. “It’s our job to aspire and inspire.”

She said she sees her classmates going on to be teachers, nurses, news anchors, business executives and more, even if they stumble on the way to those positions.

“Strive to be the next Jobs, the next Einstein, or the next Disney,” Raymond said. “People known for their success after falling over and over again.”

Denee Graves said her time at RVHS was very memorable, and while she’s going to miss her classmates, she’s excited about going on to Northern Arizona University to start her journey toward a career as a pediatric nurse.

Kortney Fletcher posed after the ceremony with numerous relatives. She’s headed to Gateway Community College in Phoenix, where she’ll major in nursing and play softball.

“It means a lot to me, knowing that I have so many people by my side,” Fletcher said. “If it wasn’t for them, I would not be here.”

Hanna Ward’s closing speech wrapped up the ceremony. She said that while the class — which she called the “family of 2019” — went through some hard times, they still had a good purpose.

“They molded us to be the incredible people that we are today,” Ward said. “Remember to keep going and don’t give up, even if the odds are against you.”

Dillon Dowdy faced some challenges on the way to graduation, said his stepmother, Mandy Knox. But he worked hard to make it, she said.

“I’m pretty happy,” Dowdy said. “I’m going to miss everyone, but everything great comes to an end.”

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