TRUCKEE, Calif. — The future is up to you.
That was a consistent message the 154 Truckee High School graduates heard Saturday afternoon at Surprise Stadium as they prepared to embark on life after high school.
“(It’s) important to realize our future is not something that just happens to us,” said Lillian Doerner, senior class vice president, to her fellow graduates. “It is up to us to create. The next step in our lives we’ll be faced with many choices. The doors we choose to open are the doors that will lead us to who we will become, what we do and what we will accomplish.”
Andrew Cross, chief executive officer of Truckee-Tahoe Lumber Company and Truckee High class of 1998 alum, emphasized the importance of being proactive in life, a lesson he learned in college while running for president of his fraternity.
Going into the campaign “very modestly” under the assumption everyone would vote for him since he was well-liked and capable, Cross ended up losing the election.
“I learned that if you weren’t willing to promote yourself, no one else will,” he said. “This in some ways is very contradictory toward what we were told, but I promise you, if you’re just sitting there waiting for someone to see how great you are, you’ll be waiting a long time.
“… Never sit in the background. Step up and be proactive and go get what you want.”
This next lesson Cross learned after graduating college: Never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve something.
“The funny thing is a lot of times these naysayers could be right, if you’re not willing to work hard enough to achieve your goals,” he said. “You’ll find that sometimes your natural talents aren’t sufficient in what you want to accomplish.
“However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means you’ve got to work harder to get there. Don’t let anybody talk you out of maximizing your potential. If you are willing to put in the work, you can achieve anything.”
Co-valedictorian Joaquina “Quina” Williams also emphasized the importance of love — love of the actions you take, love for the people you surround yourself with and love for yourself.
“Today, as we leave behind the lives of Wolverines, we should not lose that fighting spirit of our mascot, the ferocity that keeps us in the ring,” she said. “Life won’t always be easy, and we’ll need it.
“We should, however, leave behind the notion that success is achieved by being animals — greedy, protective and skeptical. Go forth into your lives with your hearts full of love — be confident, compassionate and trusting.”
It was before a crowd of hundreds of loved ones that Truckee High graduates collected their diplomas to great applause.
“The future of our graduates is up to each and every one of them, and I know they will make the best of it for them, for all of you, our community and our country,” said Rob Leri, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District superintendent.