Friday, May 31st, will remain bittersweet. We survived one of the hottest days of the year. Scanning the sky, there wasn’t a rain cloud in sight; the day before the commencement ended with a drenching down pour. We just had to deal with the heat! Most likely, it will be one of the cooler in the days ahead. Upon further review, I caught a glimpse of the North steps. Forty-two years ago my classmates and I covered them as we took a picture of our class at commencement. We would graduate four years later as the Pierce Class of 1981.
We paid the price as freshmen. I can personally attest to making payments. I remember getting stuffed in one of the sky lights with a few of my friends. It wasn’t big enough for one, let alone all of us. I wore an ice cream cone as head attire for what seemed like eternity. PE toughened me up. I’m grateful to a teacher that decided to investigate the gym before locking up or who knows how long I would have hung on the wall, attached to a hook for the crash mat below the basket, suspended, a prisoner of my jock. The following years were not as entertaining, but they were instructive as well as memorable. Our senior year, we arrived as kings of the mountain, big men on campus (the female were not one whit behind).
I have pretty much been tossed around with the flow of life these past 19 plus years. My 17-year-old is most of those years. Three more daughters and a grandchild have followed. But as she walked through in the processional to take her seat with her classmates, I just lost it. I don’t usually experience these kinds of emotions in these situations. The years have passed as if in the blink of an eye.
From that point, a common thread of family wove a brilliant tapestry throughout the evening. My wife and children have been my life. I acknowledge the strong foundation built from the Arens/Denhardt tradition, but my wife and children have presented growth opportunities that would never have been otherwise. Principal Vujovich asked those Pierce graduates in the audience to stand; the result impressed me with the number. My grad is the fourth generation. The Arens family is a little behind in the generation race. I do believe there are a few 6th generation. He reminded us that the Class of 2019 was about to join the Pierce Alumni family. All the speakers commented on family. As a Latter-day Saint, family is a big deal, as it should be always.
Congratulations to you Class of 2019. You have paid the price. Call yourself Pierce family! It is time for you to move on, but that doesn’t have to be synonymous with leave. I pray that PJUSD has prepared you for what is to come. I am still pondering the emotions of the evening. I am smiling. My best achievement is my family. I plan on being there for them. As for my Pierce family, I commit to stand with and for you. Remember, we are here for you!. ■
— Scott Arens is a lifelong resident of Arbuckle. To contact Scott email firstname.lastname@example.org