Freshmen, we believe in you!

Not many teenagers are consciously planning four years ahead, but members of the Lake Havasu High School freshman class (Class of 2013) recently attended a pep rally designed to make sure 2013 and graduation are on their minds.

Class of 2013Over 500 students of the LHHS freshman class, their teachers, and other participating students almost filled the High School’s Performing Arts Center on November 5 for a special “Commitment to Graduate” rally. The Commitment to Graduate™ program (also known as C2G™) was developed by Jostens, a company that sells graduation supplies such as rings, graduation gowns, and school yearbooks, but that also sponsors programs to encourage and recognize student achievement and leadership.

Students entering the performing arts center for the rally were each given a piece of paper containing a special graduation oath. LHHS upperclassmen from the Freshman Mentor Club and the Renaissance Club* passed out the papers and organized materials onstage. Members of both clubs wore distinctive club T-shirts. T-shirts are very important at our high school, and signify pride in your group. Even teachers often wear special shirts like the science department shirt that has a large letter C on it, representing the element carbon, and says, “Carbon based and proud of it.”

The rally was hosted by a member of the school’s Renaissance Club. He welcomed the freshmen and identified himself as a senior. He said it seemed only a short time ago that he was a freshman himself. He asked how many of them intended to graduate. Most of the students in the audience raised their hands. He introduced a video provided by Jostens that talked about the importance of education and graduation in a changing world. The video was shown on a large projection screen. After the video, the host introduced district superintendent Gail Malay. Here is a summary of her remarks.

We believe in you. In four years, I want every single one of you to get your diploma. You will have to compete in a global economy against workers in India, China, Korea, and Viet Nam. Your generation needs to be better prepared than my generation. High wages require high skills. You must develop your skills and keep practicing. Employers will look at your work ethic. Are you reliable? Will you stick with a task and see it through? Your diploma is an indicator. Develop and use your imagination. You must be able to imagine new ways to do old jobs. When they take the photograph of the graduating class of 2013, I want you to be in the picture.

High School assistant principal Denise Miner also spoke briefly to the students. She said she was glad the earlier show of hands indicated most of the students intended to graduate.

The host introduced another student. She asked the freshmen to bring out the printed graduation oath they had been given earlier and lead them in reciting the oath aloud. It read, in part, “I solemnly promise for myself and for my future to study hard and remain in school.” Students were asked to sign their copy of the oath.

Finally, the students were invited, one section at a time, to come onstage and sign their name to one of two graduation gowns that will be put on display by the school as a reminder of their pledge. As students lined up to climb the short set of steps leading up to the stage, a group of upperclassmen (most wearing the mentor club T-shirt) formed a double line that cheered, applauded, and high fived the passing freshmen. While students signed the graduation gowns, a slideshow featuring quotations from the graduation oath and pictures of freshman students played on the projection screen.

While school administrators and staff were present and participated, the rally was run by students, for students. The speeches, the video, and the enthusiastic involvement of students delivered a clear message. “We believe in you, and we want you to succeed. Set your goals, do the work, and you can graduate.”

*Members of the Freshman Mentor Club work as mentors to freshman students, helping them learn about and adjust to the high school environment. The Renaissance Club promotes personal growth through academic achievement and school and civic involvement.