Wednesday, June 20, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on June 14th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 15

Santa Maria Valley high school seniors celebrate graduation


On June 8, 581 Pioneer Valley High School seniors lined up waiting for their names to be announced as they walked across the stage. A monumental moment: high school graduation.

Pioneer Valley’s graduating class earned $1.1 million in tuition, scholarships, and awards, according to Principal Shanda Herrera.

Santa Maria Joint Union High School District seniors received diplomas at Ernest Righetti, Pioneer Valley, and Santa Maria (pictured) high schools on June 8.

“I’m so proud of the accomplishments of the class of 2017. The students have shown so much growth over the past four years and they have been wonderful to work with,” Herrera said in a statement. “They have so much to be proud of.”

Pioneer Valley had not one but two valedictorians in addition to a salutatorian. Erik Ruiz, valedictorian, graduated with a 4.4 grade point average (GPA) and will be attending Stanford in the fall. Dominique Aranda Palomino graduated with a 4.4 GPA as well, and will be attending University of California, Berkeley, in the fall.

Wardie Ghali, salutatorian, graduated with a 4.32 GPA and will be attending UC Berkeley along with Palomino.

“We’re more prepared for life’s curve balls than all of the other classes that came before us, and through our adversity we have gained the tools to succeed,” Ghali said in his commencement speech. “We are fighters, we are dreamers, and we are change makers. The world better be prepared for what the class of 2017 has to offer.”

Park Valley’s graduates have set records, completed many achievements, and given hours of service and leadership to the community, Herrera said during the commencement.

The students gave the school memories and a legacy to associate with the class of 2017, she said.

“It’s a privilege to our faculty to serve this community as educators,” Herrera said during the commencement. “Today is a day of celebration, and I congratulate your parents and your families. Congratulations.”

Ernest Righetti High School had 464 students graduate on June 8. Principal Karen Rotondi was “excited and emotional for the Class of 2017,” and hopes that the students take the knowledge and skills gained along their journey thus far to work hard, live fully, and experience the success she knows they can achieve.

Valedictorian Sean Hollinshead urged his classmates to always give “110 percent” in his graduation speech.

“Whatever pathway you choose, be passionate, make each and every step you take in your life be the best days of your life,” Hollinshead said in his speech. “Work to create an environment in which you thrive. So in moving forward after today, choose not to settle.”

Delta High School’s graduation featured 338 graduates on June 7, and Santa Maria High School boasted 520 graduating students on June 8. There were 1,903 total high school graduates from the Santa Maria Joint Unified High School District this year.

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