West Ranch Class of 2022 graduates with a turn of a tassel and caps thrown into the air in celebration


Alyssa Chang and Reya Mehta

   Tuesday, May 25 was a bittersweet day for West Ranch seniors. The graduating class of 2022 numbered over 600, and families and friends alike crammed into the bleachers of COC’s football field to celebrate the seniors’ final moments of high school. 

   The ceremony began with a speech by Mr. Crawford, who spoke about the achievements and dedication of the Wildcats, parents and family who made the special moment possible. As this is Mr. Crawford’s last year serving as West Ranch’s principal, he bid both the seniors and the staff adieu, and declared how proud he was to have this last moment with the class of 2022. 

   Next came a speech by graduating senior Emily Yoon, who reminisced on the last four years, ending with a poignant note on her growth from the first day of freshman year to the last day of senior year.

   Tyler Walters’s speech followed, discussing the impending approach of the real world while recalling special high school moments. 

   After the speeches concluded, the seniors were called up by name to receive their diplomas. Each graduate walked across the field and up to the stage, shaking hands with faculty and receiving diplomas before heading back to their seat. 

   Mr. Stanich, a West Ranch physics teacher, commented on the melancholy feeling of the night: ”Each time they called the name of a student of mine, I had a bunch of good memories flood through my head of the times that we spent together. I was very proud and sad at the same time.”

   Once all names were called, the West Ranch graduates cheered and flipped the tassel on their caps from the right to the left. Caps were tossed into the air with a whoop, and families flooded into the field for teary congratulations and pictures. 

   “The highlight of the ceremony was definitely tossing our caps in the air,” graduating West Ranch senior Rebecca Lee said. “The subsequent flurry of excitement as we ran to our friends, screaming in excitement and hugging each other—nothing beats that feeling of pure joy and accomplishment.”

   Lonetta Imperial-Pham, the mother of West Ranch senior Cassidy Imperial-Pham, mirrored the emotions of pride and joy seen on the faces of the seniors’ supporters. Mrs. Imperial-Pham recalled feeling, “In one word, proud. The way [Cassidy] conducted herself and made it through the high school years has made me very proud of the young lady she’s become.”

   Now, many of the former Wildcats face their last summer before college. Lee said that she will be “pursuing hobbies that [she hasn’t] had the chance to enjoy.” Similar to many members of her graduating class, Lee added, “I also want to relax, spend time with friends, and enjoy childhood for the last time.”

   To the class of 2022 Wildcats, congratulations and good luck!