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Goddard launches new group of graduates

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School officials lead the Class of 2017 graduates of Goddard High School onto the Wool Bowl field for the Saturday commencement ceremonies. In front, left, is Board of Education President Nicole Austin. At right, is Interim Superintendent Susan Sanchez. In back of them is, left, is Board of Education Vice President Mona Kirk and, at right, Goddard Principal Brian Luck. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)
Goddard High graduating seniors continue the tradition of giving Principal Brian Luck a trinket or keepsake as they cross the platform. This year, class members gave him a puzzle piece. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Life is often a puzzle, as Goddard High School seniors know, but graduating seniors speaking at the Saturday night commencement exercise at the Wool Bowl urged their classmates to persevere no matter what and to embrace education as a lifelong endeavor.
The graduating class of 2017 consisted of 231 students, whom Principal Brian Luck referred to as “some of the finest men and woman of our city, state and nation.” In turn, they gifted him with a piece of a puzzle as they crossed the platform to accept their diplomas. In doing so, they continued a tradition of each graduating student handing him some trinket or object as a token of their time at the school.
Before the ceremony ended with fireworks, graduates and their family and friends heard vocal performances by the Stargazers, listened to the band accompany graduating seniors as they walked to their seats, saw displays of photos from the academic year on a projection screen and occasionally were greeted by loud cheers and honks from the stadium crowd.
Valedictorian Marc Nava and salutatorian John Pantuso thanked their classmates, their teacher and their families. They also sought to inspire their classmates.
“Knowledge is not about what you know. It is about your willingness to learn more,” said Pantuso. “It is the creed with which I have chosen to lead my life. Life is a series of quests, discoveries, puzzles, and, without training, we are unable to give these puzzles purpose. … Today the past generation gifts to us the world. It hopes we will continue to discover and unlock the mysteries surrounding us through science, through language, through logic and through life.”
Nava told the parable of a young boy running a race. No matter how hard he tried, he kept falling and watching others outpace him. And each time he fell, he could hear his father urging him on, saying, “Get up and win the race.” After one stumble, his father said, “Get up and take your place. You aren’t meant to fail here. Get up and win the race; for winning is no more than this, to rise each time you fall.”
The boy finished last, Nava said, “But the important thing in life is to rise each time you fall. Before us now is the chance to author the next chapter in our lives. These are the years we will decide what we will grow up to be. … Failure is an awful-tasting medicine, but I have learned that at times we all need to learn from failure. We will never better ourselves until we have overcome adversity.”
He ended the talk with an acknowledgement that he had built on the efforts of others. “Everything I have accomplished and ever will accomplish I owe to my parents, my God and my country.”
By graduating, one puzzle was solved. Now many new puzzles with their many pieces await Goddard High School’s newest alumni.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.