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Riverside Grad Earns
Tribute at Ceremony
10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, June 14, 2007
By IMRAN VITTACHI The Press-Enterprise
RIVERSIDE - At Thursday night's commencement ceremony at the California School for The Deaf in Riverside, State Superintendent of Schools Jack O'Connell took a moment to pay tribute to Ryan Lane, one of the 41 graduating students. O'Connell told the audience about how Lane was on the verge of collecting his high school diploma despite the odds having been stacked against him.
Last September, Lane, now 19, broke his back and left femur in a dirt bike accident in Pismo Beach, his mother, Jill, said.
But the young man persevered with finishing school. The deaf student attended his remaining classes in a full-body cast, said campus spokeswoman Laurie Pietro.
Ryan Lane raises his arms in victory Thursday as he begins the processional during commencement at the School for the Deaf, Riverside. Lane graduated despite breaking his back and femur last September. He attended class in a full-body cast. "In the days and years ahead, if times get tough, remember Ryan and what he overcame to be with you today," O'Connell said.
Many in the crowd of about 550, themselves deaf, fluttered their raised palms in a form of silent applause. Thirty-five of the students eventually strode to the podium to pick up their high school diplomas. The other six instead got certificates of attendance. All six are 22-year-old special-needs students who had reached the state's age limit for attending public school, campus officials said.
Actor Tyrone Giordano gave an animated, funny and compassionate keynote speech in sign language. Giordano, who is deaf, has starred on the stage in "Big River" at the Deaf West Theater in Los Angeles and on Broadway. He also appeared in the movie "The Family Stone."
He told the Class of 2007 that it was important for them to keep a positive attitude and that they would have to work two to three times as hard to win respect from non-deaf people. "You are the directors, you are the writers, you are the producers, you are the stars of your own life," Giordano said. "How do you want to make your movie? Action! Start now."
Class Valedictorian Andrew Haupert, 19, of Corona, spoke last. He is heading to the National Technical Institute for The Deaf, one of eight colleges that are part of the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York. He plans to study computer-based drafting. "I can't imagine that I'd ever forget CSDR because I've been here for 13 years, and it's hard to be leaving here ...," Haupert said. "I'll never forget you. You're like my family, like my brothers and sisters."
Article © 2007 Press-Enterprise Company 3450 Fourteenth Street, Riverside, California 92501
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