Seniors reflect on graduation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2003

Austin High School graduated 258 students Friday night at Riverside Arena in a ceremony featuring speeches by all 15 high-distinction students.

Varinh Kullavongsa said before the ceremony she was anxious about finishing her high school career.

"I'm a little nervous," she said. "Thirteen years of school, and here I am."

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The choir and orchestra performed between blocks of speeches in which students reminisced with and challenged their classmates to succeed.

"Courage is not an absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear," Linda Haas said.

She stressed self-confidence in dealing with the coming problems in life and told the class of 2003 to be strong in those difficult times.

"It is O.K. to be confused and scared as long as we don't look back," she said.

Leah Brandon used her speech to apologize to everyone in her class that she never got to know or talk to. She said she was sorry for every opportunity to share an experience with a classmate that she had missed.

Brandon said those interactions create character.

"Appreciate what you were given and what you gave," she said. "It's making you what you will be."

Dr. Seuss proved to be a popular source for quotes, but some students wrote their own poems.

Tracy Putz's poem "Goodbye to the times" seemed to create some closure for graduates as they start their new lives.

Beau Zabel rhymed some observations on the transition.

"Listen to your heart and have no doubt; we are in control from here on out," he said.

Many students felt relief at finally passing that stage in life. However there are some things that will be missed.

"The easier classes," Ebony Worthy said. "And the social crowd, it's not like that in college."

Kullavongsa said high school lived up to all expectations and then some.

"It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be," she said. "People say, 'In high school you're going to have the time of your life.' At first, you think, 'O.K., it's just school,' but after you think about it, you realize that what they say is true."

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at