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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 2:06 am | Fair 46º


Santa Maria, Righetti, Pioneer Valley High Schools Hold Simultaneous Graduation Ceremonies

Santa Maria Joint Union High School District holds ceremonies at three campuses Thursday afternoon for hundreds of graduates

Members of the Pioneer Valley High School class of 2016 pose for a picture while waiting in line for the start of the ceremony Thursday.
Members of the Pioneer Valley High School class of 2016 pose for a picture while waiting in line for the start of the ceremony Thursday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a graduation photo gallery.]

With beach balls occasionally flying through the air, hundreds of graduates from three campuses in the Santa Maria Valley celebrated the end of their high school stints on a windy Thursday afternoon. 

For the second year, the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District held simultaneous graduation ceremonies at three main campuses. 

Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley and Righetti high schools hosted the ceremonies in their football stadiums.

In all, the district’s class of 2016 boasts approximately 1,830 graduates at its four campuses, spokesman Kenny Klein said. 

As the valley’s oldest high school, the Santa Maria Saints marked the campus's 123rd commencement Thursday. 

The school’s graduation speakers included Dulce Espinoza-Valdez, Nicole Yerena, Madelyn Watson and Alondra Novoa-Martinez, who handled the past, present and future in their talks.

Thursday’s milestone was 18 years in the making and didn’t always involve an easy route for the students, one speaker said.

“Now is not the time to think back to these challenges with pain or sadness, but with reflection,” Yerena said. “We are here today and that in itself is worth celebrating.

“Graduating class of 2016, we made it,” she added.

Watson urged her fellow graduates to be proud of graduating from high school.

A Santa Maria High School graduate smiles during the speeches Thursday. Click to view larger
A Santa Maria High School graduate smiles during the speeches Thursday.                  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“So whether you’re going off to college or heading straight into a career, always question whether what you’re doing will benefit your community and your goal,” she said. 

At all three campuses, graduates battled the Santa Maria Valley’s spring winds which periodically knocked caps off during the ceremonies.

Other speeches at Santa Maria High School were the valedictorian message by Alyssa Ramiro and salutatorian Lian Mae Tualla.

At Pioneer Valley, speakers included salutatorian Giselle Gutierrez-Marron and valedictorian Manuel Rolon-Osuna in addition to Joseph Codamos, Associated Student Body president, giving the farewell address. Class President Kate Rangel delivered the farewell speech on behalf of her fellow graduates.

In Orcutt, Zachary Burg and Haley Kang delivered the co-valedictorian speech for Righetti High. Other speakers were graduates Kyler Corral and Sarai Briseno-Calderon.

For this year's ceremonies, the district issued tickets, allowing five per graduate but also advising additional tickets were available if needed. 

The decision to host simultaneous ceremonies drew criticism from students families and staff but district officials said it was a matter of safety and allows staff to be present at each ceremony.

The contract for security staff expires on the last day of school so a ceremony after Thursday is less than optimal, district officials said. 

Despite the simultaneous ceremonies and tickets, bleachers at all three stadiums were full for the ceremonies as hundreds of other spectators lined the fencing along the tracks at each school.

After posing for a picture, Pioneer Valley graduate Michelle Lozano jokingly said, “Remember that name. I’m going places.”

A day earlier, Delta High School held its graduation at Allan Hancock College.

A free video of each ceremony will be available on district and school websites between three and four weeks after graduation, district officials said

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

A Righetti High School graduate waves to well-wishers while waiting in line to get her diploma Thursday. Click to view larger
A Righetti High School graduate waves to well-wishers while waiting in line to get her diploma Thursday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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