Seniors show steel resolve

BY KEVIN PEARSON

 

STAFF WRITER kpearson@pe.com

 

“Through adversity comes a steel resolve,” Shaw told her 525 graduating seniors.

 

And possibly no class has endured as much adversity as Hemet’s this year.

 

The school’s turbulent year came to an end with a joyous celebration at the Ramona Bowl, with a sea of red and white caps and gowns offering its graduates a chance to reflect on what they have been through this year and with a message to carry that resolve into the future.

 

Two students committed suicide, a number that experts say is extremely rare. In March, a popular teacher, herself a Hemet High graduate who once walked across the same Ramona Bowl stage to graduate, was arrested for having an on-campus sexual relationship with a minor male student.

 

And just two days before graduation, the campus was again rocked when eight students were hit in a crosswalk by an 18-year-old junior at the school, leaving several in critical condition.

 

“They have, as a group, overcome more challenges and obstacles than any class in the nation,” Shaw said. “I don’t know of anyone who has gone through so much in a 174-day period.”

 

It’s a class that has endured constant construction on the campus since they arrived four years ago and that has dealt with numerous tensions on campus that have, at times, overshadowed the good that has been accomplished.

 

This year, half of Hemet High’s teams won league championships on the athletic field, and the graduating seniors were among the best in the county during testing their junior years. Graduating seniors are bound for West Point and Stanford, among other colleges and universities.

 

“When things came up, we just kept our mind on the goal,” said senior Seth Frauenpreis, who this spring was hit in the face with a shot put and required reconstructive surgery and three titanium plates in his face. “It was difficult, but we came together.”

 

When the graduates pick up their diplomas next week, Shaw will present them each with a steel horseshoe, a token that she hopes they will keep with them. The horseshoe for luck, and the steel representing the resolve that she has come to admire.

 

“It’s not the tragedies that made this class,” she said. “It’s the triumph of what they have overcome.”


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