Clovis High graduates encouraged to find a purpose greater than themselves

Clovis senior Justin Pinckney speaks to nearly 400 fellow graduating seniors about “The Game of Life” during Saturday’s Clovis High School commencement at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.

By Darrell Todd Maurina: CNJ staff writer

As nearly 400 members of the Clovis High School Class of 2004 prepared to graduate Saturday morning, speakers tried to capture the moment and encourage the students before them to use their high school years as preparation for their future.

All three student speakers used sports analogies to show students how they should live their lives.

“The first few minutes of a basketball game can set the tone for all four quarters of the game, just as the first few years can set the stage for the rest of life,” said student speaker Justin Pinckney. “We start to develop our opinions, values, ethics and goals.”

Pinckney told his audience that long-term success depends not on the individual win but on sportsmanlike conduct.

“Real winners know success is not always measured in wins and losses, it is how you play the game,” Pinckney said.

Carli McCasland said she and other students will always remember the high and low points of their years at CHS.

“This is the last time all of us will be in the same place at the same time,” McCasland said. “We will remember being state champions as sophomores and losing our homecoming game as seniors, but still knowing that a Wildcat is the toughest thing out there.”

Student body president Jordan Strebeck told the students that just as many things about the world have changed since the graduating seniors were born, they need to be prepared for still more changes in the future.

“It is crazy how things change — I can remember a time when there was no Internet, no breath-enhancing chewing gum, and no cell phones,” Strebeck said. “I don’t know how we survived without all three of those things.”

Strebeck said to be prepared for life, students need to find their foundational values, root themselves in something greater than themselves, and go forward.

“The only variable that you can control is you,” Strebeck said. “You cannot control your environment or surroundings, but you can control your reaction to them.”

One of those upcoming changes will be in the life of high school principal Andrew Sweet, who will return to the classroom next year. Students came to their feet in a standing ovation as Sweet was introduced, and he repeatedly interrupted his speech as he wiped tears from his eyes.

“Knowing each of you have made me a better father, a better principal, a better Christian and a better man,” Sweet said.