Hundreds of newly minted graduates are on their way to the worlds of work and higher education after a colorful ceremony in the parking lot of the Tamuning, Guam school as thousands of family, relatives and friends looked on. In all, 342 graduating seniors picked up diplomas and certificates attesting to what they had learned in the course of their education.
The program honored the top graduates, based on academic performance, extra-curricular activities and other aspects of their personal lives. The 2017 Islander class valedictorian was Jong Inn Ho Park; the salutatorian, Dianne T. De Leon.
University of Guam President Robert Underwood presented 50 UOG merit scholarships. He said that in recent years, most of UOG's entering freshmen have come from JFK. Underwood is a 1965 graduate of JFK High and noted that graduation contrasted with this one.
"We graduated in gowns that were made of paper, imagine that. And we graduated in a building across the street from Adelup, so there was no celebration here on campus, but I want to congratulate you for continuing that tradition of having your celebration, connected to your building,connected to your campus, connected to your place of learning and making sure that your heart and soul, your very being is connected with this school."
"[President John F. Kennedy] for whom this school is named said, 'our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.' The human mind is our fundamental resource. That resource you all possess and that resource is taken care of here at JFK."
The graduates also heard from Guam Education Board Chairperson Peter Alecxis D. Ada and Vice Chairperson Maria A. Gutierrez, two other 1960s JFK High School grads.
As the ceremony got underway in the middle of Guam's Friday afternoon homeward rush, traffic at the K-Mart intersection on Marine Corps Drive gridlocked, as late arrivers scrambled to find scarce parking.