Napa Valley RegisterDonning purple caps, gowns and leis, 90 New Tech High School graduates crossed over into adulthood on Wednesday night at Memorial Stadium, bringing lasting friendships, memories and valuable lessons into their bright and unknown futures.Prior to the ceremony, students huddled excitedly in groups, posed for photos with family and friends and even scarfed down dinner. Balloons filled the small section of stands reserved for spectators.Manon Murphy anxiously awaited her turn to sing the National Anthem, more nervous about that than crossing the stage and entering the next chapter of her life, which will take her to the University of Oregon in the fall.“I’m really excited, but also really nervous. I’ve never sang in front of this many people,” she said.”This is the largest graduating class for New Tech High in a couple of years and Riley Johnson’s first as Principal, after serving as Assistant Principal the previous school year.“This class is very special to me. They have persevered through many obstacles, as well as accepted me into the New Tech High family with open arms. They have been vital to our growth as a school and have helped me and the staff continue to innovate to make New Tech High the special place it is and will continue to be into the future,” said Johnson. “I am blessed to call this group of students my first graduating class and honored to see the difference that each of them will continue to make in the community and world.”Isabella Pritchard has been making post-high school plans for quite some time, and can hardly wait to pursue her passion of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.“High school is the time to figure out what you’re going to do. But I feel like once you have, the excitement just builds up so much stronger because you’re ready to get out, you’re ready to go,” she said.Wearing a multitude of pins signifying honors and academic achievements, Valedictorian Benjamin Dougherty said he felt having attended New Tech gives him and his classmates an edge moving forward.“I think New Tech prepared us better than most schools, preparing us to find jobs, getting used to doing presentations, dressing up, putting things together last minute or with plenty of time,” he said.This year’s other Valedictorians included Signe Olson, Alexander Dolven, Olivia Dom, Ryan Berilla, Kilian Fitzgerald and Emma Harrington. Ami Ambu was the Salutatorian, and chosen by her senior class as Senior Speaker was Annika Jean Erickson.In her speech, Dom referred to graduation day as a “call to action;” a time to break out of comfort zones and overcome fears and doubts as she and her classmates enter the “real world.”Dolven, who opened with an original poem, took his class back in time through a series of classroom memories from the last four years, while Ambu closed his address with an insightful piece of wisdom.“Let the intense moments of character and morality define you, not a grade,” he said.
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