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A graduate in a red cap and gown stands on stage with his parentsThe Centennial Class of 2024, 177 strong, holds the distinction of being the first to graduate from the new building.
On Friday, during the school’s 140th commencement ceremony, the graduates joined “the long red line” – the thousands of Bulldogs who will always call Centennial, in all its incarnations. home.
The graduates and those in attendance at the Southwest Motors Events Center were welcomed by Principal Alex Trujillo, who took over the reins of the school in the spring.
"The Class of 2024 has upheld the longstanding tradition of excellence at Centennial. Your journey to this milestone has been marked by countless hours of dedication, sacrifice, and unwavering determination. Today, we celebrate not only your academic achievements but also your resilience in the face of challenges and your commitment to excellence.
“Though our time together has been brief, we share a common bond — we are all embarking on a new chapter in our journey. As you continue forward, I challenge each of you to embrace the uncertainty with courage and determination. I, too, accept this challenge as I lead Centennial High School in upholding our traditions.”
Student body president Izaiah Trujillo was the first of the featured speakers to address the gallery.
“I am proudly speaking to you all as the first-ever student body president of the newest and current state-of-the-art Centennial High School building, from which we all will be graduating, titling our class as the ‘First Dogs out,’” he said.
“I’d like to kick this off with a quote I once heard and it will forever stick with me: ‘When the Bulldog spirit bites you, it’s got you.’ Without a doubt, this quote has not only gone through previous alumni, but has been an embodiment: a representation of the Bulldog Sprit in everyone, and of all the things we do.”
Centennial’s top scholar also is the District’s top scholar: Eli Schwartz, who will attend the University of Colorado to study Environmental Science.
In his remarks, Eli offered advice that has served him well.
“Be proactive. No matter our age, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for anyone. It is easy to say, ‘I’ll call that relative tomorrow,’ or ‘I’ll learn that language when I have more time,’ or even, ‘I’ll pursue my dreams once I retire.’ But the ‘after’ or the ‘once’ or the ‘someday’ or the ‘tomorrow’ may never come,” he said.
“All anyone has is today, so don’t sit idly and wait. James Dean said it best: ‘Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.
“My second pearl of inspiration: just keep going. As we embark to explore new territories, possibly with no end in sight, remember that our paths are rarely a straight line. We may change college majors or careers multiple times throughout our lives, and seemingly make little to no forward progress. We will make and lose friends, have unplanned setbacks, and probably suffer a heartbreak or two.
“True progress, though, isn’t just forward, but in the value of the experiences we encounter, and from that fact that we just keep going. An even more important thing to recognize is that the only way to fail, is any regard, is to quit.”
Senior class president Kianna Phillips also took a turn at the lectern.
“As this day is all about us and our accomplishments, there are plenty of people to thank, such as the faculty and staff that are here today, including teachers, principals, office staff, counselors, and of course Centennial foundation members. We certainly wouldn’t have made it this far, to be sitting here ready to move on to the next steps in life, without each of you, and we couldn’t appreciate you more.
“There were definitely times when we were difficult, especially when some of us would sleep in you, class or would come in late. As we move forward, I can speak on behalf of the class of 2024, that there are life lessons and real world problems we wouldn’t have been able to learn and solve without you. So thank you, to all the staff and the alumni sitting in the crowd today for making our journeys possible.
“Each of us will forever live by the saying that has become synonymous with Centennial, that being ‘Once A Bulldog, Always A Bulldog.’"
Retired Centennial Principal Dave Craddock praised the Class of 2024 for being adaptable and resilient, especially in navigating the challenges of the past four years, including the pandemic, and acclimating to a new building.
Singled out for recognition were those Bulldogs who earned a college credential (associate’s degree) and a professional certificate, and those who will serve in the military.
Collectively, the Centennial Class of 2024 earned $6.6 million in scholarships: best in the District this year.
Bulldogs will be attending such institutions as Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, Colorado State University Pueblo, Grand Canyon University, Ithaca College, Lesley University, Metropolitan State University of Denver,
Pepperdine University, Regis University, South Dakota School of Mines, University of Colorado, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, University of Colorado Denver, University of Denver, University of Hawaii Hilo, University of Miami, University of Nebraska, and University of Nevada Las Vegas.
The commencement featured a special moment of remembrance for veterans and those serving, led by three graduates who are now Marines. The tolling of a memorial bell and the playing of "taps" marked the moment.