Congratulating the Class of 2023

The vast majority of a student’s academic career is spent in their hometown at local elementary schools, middle schools and high schools of their choice. A time of learning, growing, meeting new people, making lasting friendships and memories and becoming an adult, students grapple with entering the real world and going off to college. But who thought that the Class of 2023 would battle more challenges in their high school career than any class before? 

On June 8, the Class of 2023 spent their final moments as high school students celebrating and commemorating themselves and their fellow peers in a bittersweet ceremony of their past achievements. An event filled with intense joy, nostalgia, excitement and some sadness; emotions ran high for the Class of 2023, who overcame multiple challenges throughout their high school path. From grappling with a worldwide pandemic during their freshman and sophomore years, only having one homecoming dance, inventing a “back-to-dances dance” and much more, these graduates fought through it all. 

However, the Class of 2023 did not lose pride, excellence or discipline over the past four years. With a stunning 184 students graduating with salutatorian status, boasting a cumulative 4.0 or better Grade Point Average, and many others achieving honor roll and scholarships for academic elitism, the Class of 2023 let none down; they rather shined a path for other grades coming into high school not knowing how to be high schoolers. 

Graduate Jade Fetnaci, who will be attending the University of Colorado, Boulder, talked about the hardships her class faced but also the memories she developed because of them.

“It was certainly tough coming back after being online for an entire year but we got through it. More importantly, we got through it together,” Fetnaci said. “My favorite memory of Redwood is definitely the back-to-dances dance because it was my first dance after COVID-19 so it was really fun to be with all of my friends.”

Fetnaci also remarked about her future and looking forward to college while holding the lessons she learned at Redwood close to her in the next step of her life. 

“I’m looking forward to college … I’m really excited to be in a different state, make new friends and be with my roommate but I also won’t forget everything that I learned here and how it made me the person I am today,” Fetnaci said.

Fetnaci was not the only one who reminisced at graduation, though; almost everyone did with a sense of joy but also nostalgia. Senior class president Tawny Strotz gave an outstanding speech honoring CSF recipients, fellow classmates and faculty. 

“Thank you to the coaches, the parents, the caregivers, the wellness and college and career staff, the teachers who inspire us through our best and worst days and most importantly, the Class of 2023,” Strotz said. “Thank you seniors. It’s been amazing being your president and I can’t wait to see all of your [faces] at our five year reunion.”

Additionally, co-valedictorians Sa’ar Lipshitz and Jackson Bramlette gave an advice and inspiration-filled speech with love and humor to their fellow graduates. Looking forward, Bramlette talked about past luxuries and future opportunities.

“While having to manage our own schedules, living conditions and budgets may seem daunting, it is important to also look forward to the newfound freedom of post-highschool life,” Bramlette said. “And whether for you that means partying harder, staying out later or learning more about plant hormones, going forward we can all begin to live life as we please. The funnest times of our lives are yet to come, even if that means soon enough we will begin to grow old.”

Additionally, Lipshitz provided insight to his listeners on how to tackle social life as an adult and contribute to bettering society as a whole.

“However you have spent these last two or seven years, our time in high school has come to an end. And now, it is our duty to go out into the world and to try and fix the many crises that humanity faces today,” Lipshitz said.

The pair finished their speech by commenting on integrity, how all of their graduates alike have entered the digital age, and how they can still live in the moment.

“The fact is that Facetime has become our playdates, Snapchat has become our flirting, Instagram has become the way we show ourselves off to the world. However, I’d like to say this: life is what happens in those moments when you forget you have a phone. So live freely, live fearlessly, and most importantly, look up,” Bramlette said.

“In the end, it is impossible to predict the ways in which all of our journeys through life will develop, and change and intersect with one another in the coming years. All the two of us can say for certain is that we hope you all lead fulfilling, successful and fun lives, whatever that means to you,” Lipshitz said.

From speeches to cheers, screams to tears and hugs to smiles, the graduation ceremony embodied the Class of 2023 like no other. The pinnacle of a high school student, graduates of all backgrounds, ethnicities, passions and dreams united to celebrate incredible individual and group achievements. A class like no other, the 2023 graduates will go down in Redwood history as champions who sparked life back into a high school coming off of a vacant three-year hiatus.

Class of 2023, congratulations. You did it. Now make Redwood proud; we know you will.