Sagacious send-off

Molly Shore

The 56th graduating class of Bellarmine-Jefferson High School

received some great advice from hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

“Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been,”


Gretzky wrote them. “Off the ice, I think it means the same thing.”

Gretzky was one of several prominent people who responded to a

request by Principal Sister Cheryl Milner to share their secrets of

success with graduates.


“Do your best job each day, and keep your eyes on the next step of

the ladder,” journalist Walter Cronkite wrote back.

Other notables responding to Milner’s request included

television’s Art Linkletter, Bishop Desmond Tutu, First Lady Laura

Bush, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. and

author Faye Kellerman.

At commencement exercises Saturday morning in the Hall of Liberty

at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Milner told the 90 graduates,


“Seniors, you are outstanding. I think you are wonderful, and have

great things in your future.”

In his immediate future, Edward Gutierrez, 19, plans to enjoy a

trip to Cabo San Lucas, a graduation gift from his parents. After

that, he said, he will work this summer and enter Pasadena Community

College in the fall.

Jennifer Ayad and her classmate Cristiana Zelaya are heading to

Cal State Northridge. The two friends, wearing caps and gowns,


applied last-minute touches to their hair and makeup before joining

the processional into the hall.

“We’re kind of nervous because we’re in the choir,” said Jennifer,


Class valedictorian Robin De Leonardis said it’s OK to make


“Be the real you, and not afraid to take risks,” she said.

“Embrace opportunities and be open to challenges.”

Class salutatorian Jovanna Quintanar reminded her classmates they

are the future.

“This we know,” she said. “But we don’t know what the future holds

for us.”

When the commencement exercise was finished, Zelaya -- surrounded

by her family and friends, and clutching balloons, flowers and a

small stuffed bear wearing a mortarboard -- flashed a big smile as

she posed for photos.

“It’s a wonderful day for me and my family,” said Zelaya’s father,

Raul, as he watched with pride while his daughter received numerous

hugs, kisses and congratulations.