achievements. He praised the hundreds of individual triumphs that
took place on that campus throughout the year.
"Newport Harbor has become a remarkable institution," Vossen said.
"We are truly blessed."
Anthony Nichols and James Richardson were on hand to pay a special
tribute to senior Michael Brian Richardson. Nichols, Richardson and
two other 19-year-olds were shirtless at the graduation ceremony,
with large black letters spelling out M-I-K-E across their stomachs.
They couldn't get enough people for Michael, the foursome said.
The graduate's older brother, James Richardson, who described
himself as notorious, had very brotherly advice for Mike.
"Seriously, learn from my mistakes, and do really well," he said.
"He's going to be great. He really is going to be great. You'll see."
Valedictorian Stephen Sharma said he would spare his classmates
the usual "sappy cliches and overused expressions" all too typical of
graduation ceremonies. Instead, he would recount a story from his
freshman year and "maybe everyone here will connect with it too."
Sharma told the story of his first cross-country race, in which he
realized somewhere on the course that he was lost. He was searching
for a way to go, trying to find other runners, but found himself
alone and off course.
"I just ran," Sharma said. "I moved in a new direction, away from
where I was to somewhere new."
Time spent at Newport Harbor was similar to a race, one he can say
he finished, but not without a fair share of hurdles.
"We have one race behind us and another one just starting," Sharma
said. "I'm sure we will all get lost again. ... We have to keep
running and always find your way back on course and finish."
Once finished, members of the class of 2003 will not be remembered
for their high-paying jobs or status on the socioeconomic ladder,
Vossen said. They will be remembered for the kind of mother, father,
daughter, sister, brother and friend they were.
"For simply being there for someone else," Vossen said, "this is
how you will be remembered."