By Lori Lyn Lirio
“I AM not going to tell you that you are the leaders of tomorrow. No, you are the leaders starting today. Don’t wait for tomorrow. The sky is the limit. Go for it and create your future.
Thus said Republic of Palau President Thomas Remengesau Jr. to the 392 graduates of the Marianas High School graduation ceremony last week when he was their keynote speaker.
With its theme “the best way to predict the future is to create it,” the MHS graduates were encouraged by Remengesau to preserve, strengthen the culture and family values.
“Young people like you can help revitalize and strengthen our culture, here on the island and throughout the world. You are like a coconut that can float a thousand of miles until you finally find a new home and grow,” the President said.
He, likewise, encouraged the graduates, to come back on the island and help revitalize the community.
“Our islands cannot succeed when all young people leave and do not come back. For too long our islands have been dependent on the outside world for survival even though we don’t have to be…We need to be like turtle, they always come back to their birth place,” he said.
In the graduation ceremony, Louise Zheng Li was recognized as valedictorian. She will be attending the University of San Francisco.
In her valedictory address, she told her fellow graduates that “grades don’t define you.”
“They don’t define the amount of effort you exert. They don’t define how smart you are. They definitely don’t define where you’re going to end up in the future,” she said.
She believed that they will be going to face hardships, but “the Class of 2018 has so much potential.”
“We have Jhon Mendoza going to West Point. We have Chenoa Bunts-Anderson going to Columbia University. We have Luis Cepeda, Donald Pangelinan, Rolex Castro, and Kevin Ogo going to the Marines,” she said.
“Don’t doubt your potential, because you are a part of a class that exudes potential.
Salutatorian Joyce Anne Rios Nisola chimed in encouraging her fellow graduates.
“I believe that we all have one thing in common – resilience. It is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.”
Nisola and the Class of 2018 have experienced difficulties in the past.
“For many of you, you may have experienced loss of the loved one, a parent, a friend, even one of your own classmates. Many of you may have experienced the loss of a job or deportation of a parent and had to be the sole breadwinner of your family. Many of you may have been affected by Typhoon Soudelor three years ago. Many of us have been dealt with bad cards; cards that we did not want and yet, against all odds, here we are. We are resilient class,” she said.
Nisola said she has her own hurdles too.
“I was born and raised in the Philippines until my parents sought for a better life for us here where we started off living in a single bedroom. We did not live a comfortable life but my parents did everything within their power to try to give us one,” she said.
When they moved to a better home, Typhoon Soudelor came and left them practically homeless. They had to live with her mother’s co-worker for a month. When they were about to recover from the natural disaster, her father’s CW papers were denied and he was deported to the Philippines for three months, leaving her, her mother and her sister to fend for themselves.
“I have experienced the fear, the pain, the unfairness of life. But by the grace of God, I stand here before you, against all odds, graduating with a salutatorian honor, even when life did everything in its power to discourage and keep me from the being today,” she said.
She told her fellow graduates there will be more hurdles to come their way.
“You will stumble and fall many times and that’s okay. You do not have to have a perfect life to be great. Greatness begins not when you let your hardships define you; it begins when you decide to make something beautiful out of them.”
Nisola will attend the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
Board of Education member Herman Guerrero shared words wisdom for graduates.
“Take control of the power by making choices. Step out of your comfort zone and be a risk taker.”
Board of Education Award – Louise Zheng Lin
Commissioner on Education Award – Joyce Anne Rios Nisola
Governor’s Leadership Award – Chloe Hazel Anne Perrone Salvosa
Lieutenant Governor’s Excelsior Award – Lischulisch William
Principal’s Award – Ryan Christian Uvero Relucio
Top 10 Students:
1. Louise Zheng Li
2. Joyce Anne Rios Nisola
3. John Michael Ortizo Costales
4. Ryan Christian Uvero Relucio
5. Amelito Obtinalla Dalusong Jr.
6. Diana Pacanan Maniacop
7. Chloe Hazel Ann Parrone Salvosa
8. Catherine Nicole Diotares Roque
9. Chenoa Gale Bunts-Anderson
10. Miguel Andrei De Leon Aninon.