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MHS graduates look back on four years of change

Malibu High School graduates throw their caps in the air during the graduation ceremony on Friday, June 6, at Malibu High School. Alex Vejar/22nd Century Media
Nicholas Ficeto gives his student address in front of the graduates of Malibu High School during the graduation ceremony on Friday, June 6, at Malibu High School. Photos by Alex Vejar/22nd Century Media
MHS principal Jerry Block (right) congratulates Justin Holmes during the graduation ceremony.
Harrison Smart high-fives a fellow classmate after walking the stage during the graduation ceremony.
Alex Vejar, Staff Writer
1:15 pm PDT June 9, 2014

Everyone knows the adage that “the only sure things in life are death and taxes,” but the  maxim neglects to mention another equally inevitable occurrence: change. 

The graduates of Malibu High School celebrated finishing four years of school on Friday, June 6, in a ceremony where “change” played central role in the celebration.

“We change as people, you’ll likely change your major,” Nicholas Ficeto said during his address to his fellow students and other attendees. “If you haven’t changed your dream since childhood, well then in the words of Stephen Colbert, ‘The world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses.’”

Along with Ficeto, Robben Bixler and Amber Collins spoke of change and the next phase of their lives. Collins urged her classmates to be realistic with their plans moving forward.

“Stuff happens,” said Collins, who will be moving to Chicago to study philosophy. “Economies change, the planet changes, you change. The plan that’s in front of you, is that what you think is actually going to happen?”

Bixler said he expected to follow a strict plan once he entered high school, but ended up deviating from it. 

“It’s not at all what I expected, but I think it’s better, or at least as good,” Bixler said. “I feel like I kind of realized earlier than a lot of kids that you don’t necessarily have to do it one way.”

Sofi Peterson’s change during her years at Malibu came in the form of a career choice. 

“We are here in the same place for a really long time, but I feel like as the years change, you grow as a person and you change what you want to do,” Peterson said. “I had no idea what I wanted to be, and now I’m positive I want to go into engineering.”

Before attending Malibu High School, Trevor Schwerdtmann was an “angry” boy who spent much of his time alone. But once he stepped foot onto the high school, his transformation began as well. He said his ability to find friends made him into the fun-loving person he is today.

Schwerdtmann views his graduation as a stepping stone, and is looking forward to the next phase of his life. 

“It’s more, to me, like a rite of passage, going from one step to the other, and I’m kind of hopeful that things will move on and be better,” Schwerdtmann said.

The graduation ceremony consisted of speeches from students and faculty, along with musical performances by the Senior Singers and the school orchestra. 

Jerry Block, principal of the high school, was enthusiastic about the future of the Malibu class of 2014. 

“It’s such an accomplished class, and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Block said. “They’re going to go on and do great things in the world.”

Block, who will be leaving Malibu High School at the end of this month, said he was also proud to be involved with the kids during their time at Malibu. 

“They have so much potential ahead of them,” Block said. “To know that I’ve been a small part of their lives is important to me.”\

Malbu’s class of 2014 is the 19th graduating class in the high school’s history. Since 2010, completion rates at the high school have increased from 91.6 percent to 97.2 percent in 2013, according to data released this year by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

The high school itself has gone through changes since introducing its first ninth grade class in 1992. The school has become one of the most reputable public schools in the district after contending with limited arts and sports programs and a small curriculum in its earlier years, according to the school’s website. 

Hanna Carter had to change her ambitions when a fractured back prematurely ended her potential career as a gymnast. Now, she wants to help build schools and promote education in developing countries. 

Carter said the people she met at Malibu, including faculty, helped shape who she has become. 

“I’ve met a lot of people who have shown me different things and have helped me grow as a person,” Carter said.

Ficeto said in his speech that he and his fellow classmates were being given the gift of change, and issued a rallying cry to all the graduates in attendance. 

“In spite of the murky waters and fierce currents ahead of us folks, let us not forget one thing,” Ficeto said. “We are Sharks. We are the MHS class of 2014, and through our excellence, we will change the current, but only if we commit. Let us start today.”