KINGMAN - Mike Roggero had a special mission Wednesday for the bouquet of yellow and pink lilies lying at his feet in the packed gymnasium at Kingman Academy of Learning High School.
"They're for my baby sister," said Roggero. "I'd do anything for her. She's graduating tonight and we're all very proud of her."
Roggero and his wife, Julie Roggero, and grandmother, Carolyn Weldin, had flown in several days earlier from Sacramento to watch Krista Roggero graduate from the high school. She joined 93 other seniors as they walked across the stage, accepted their diplomas and tossed their blue caps into the air. After the ceremony, the big brother hugged his younger sister and presented the flowers.
Mike Roggero said his sister's graduation is especially sweet for the family because she battled thyroid cancer during her junior year, missing several weeks of school to have a lump removed from her neck. Parents Kent and Lynette Roggero said the new graduate will serve as a captain for the Relay For Life cancer walk June 1 in Kingman.
Outside in the hallway, senior Robert Caton waited nervously for the ceremony to begin. Caton stood in line in his cap and gown, verbally reminding himself to walk carefully as he followed his classmates on stage to receive his diploma.
Caton plans to work at McDonald's in Walmart during the summer, then leave for U.S. Marine boot camp Oct. 14 in San Diego. Caton enlisted in December for a career in the military police or special forces.
"I'm a little nervous about graduation," he admitted. "I'm worried about tripping. I think that not graduating would be the worst thing that could happen to me, but tripping on stage would be a close second. That would be really bad."
Nearby, senior Ashlee Arreola sat with her friends as she waited for the ceremony to commence. Arreola said she will attend cosmetology school at All Beauty College in Fort Mohave for 10 months, then work in the field to support herself while she takes a two-year radiology course at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah. But first, she had to graduate.
"I am freaking out," said Arreola. "I have butterflies and feel nauseous. This is the end of high school and everyone is leaving to start their lives. High school wasn't that difficult. I'm excited and relieved at the same time to be graduating."
During the commencement speech, the Rev. Steve Petrauschke of Central Christian Church in Kingman congratulated the seniors on their perseverance and thanked them for their dedication to excellence.
He encouraged them to better themselves in the future by watching and listening to others, investing their love into those around them and being courageous.
"During your four years here, you have relied heavily on each other in the good times and the hard times," said Petrauschke. "Class of 2013, you have made it and you have made it together.
"Starting tomorrow, you get to sleep in and hang your tassel from your car mirror. Tomorrow is the beginning of something new."
KAOL High School Principal Jeff Martin agreed, noting, "I am very proud of this class. I'll walk away after this ceremony knowing I'm in the right profession. This is a great way to end the night."