During an unusually chilly May night, the 463 students of the Ironwood Ridge graduating class of 2019 tossed up their caps and graduated, while their families ran onto the football field to congratulate them. Among the students was Sai Tiruchinapalli, who worked all four years of high school to become valedictorian.
“It was the main goal for me throughout high school, so it was a real relief when I found out I got it,” Tiruchinapalli said. “But then the question was ‘where do I go now?’”
Looking forward, Tiruchinapalli plans on attending the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University to major in computer science. He hopes to eventually become a software developer.
“I kind of felt lost at the beginning of high school, but then I joined taekwondo, and it helped me become the person I wanted to be,” Tiruchinapalli said.
As for advice to future high schoolers, Tiruchinapalli says to simply trust yourself.
“We get so clogged with advice from others, sometimes we forget to listen to ourselves,” Tiruchinapalli said. This was a sentiment he repeated while delivering his valedictorian speech from the podium. “Go listen to yourself, be yourself. If we trust our intuition, we’ll be fine.”
While at the podium, Tiruchinapalli also reminded his fellow students to be conscious of the damage humans are causing to our planet and ecosystems. Both the students and their families cheered at his environmentally conscious message.
Other Ironwood Ridge students who spoke included salutatorian Tasnia Hossain, senior class speaker Presley Figueroa and student body president C.J. Mustain.
According to Ironwood Ridge principal Matt Munger, the graduating class of 2019 earned a combined $11 million in grants and scholarships for their futures in college, vocational schools and the military.