‘REMEMBER THE JOURNEY’
“Unforgettable in every way, and forever more that’s how you’ll stay,” sang Pioneer Valley High School’s Jazz Choir, kicking off the school’s 43rd commencement ceremony Thursday afternoon in Santa Maria.
As families and friends arrived and took their seats, the choir performed several classics, like Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable”. Although the song was written to a loved one, it seemed that the choir was singing farewell to the school that had made a lasting impact on their lives.
“Don’t let where you’re going let you forget where you’ve been. Remember the journey you took in high school. Remember the hardships you’ve faced to achieve what you have achieved today,” said Gabriela Ramirez Camacho during her Salutatorian address.
Ms. Ramirez Camacho, who will be attending UCLA to study political science, encouraged the class of 2019 to remember the difficulties they faced and overcame in high school when presented with life’s new challenges.
“To the future forensic scientist, environmental engineer, actor, or even future President of the United States, always remember that we first begun to make our mark here at PV, and that our high school adventure will make us become the people of tomorrow. So please don’t stop us now,” said Ms. Ramirez Camacho.
Pioneer Valley’s valedictorian, Naomi Lopez, reminded the class that each student had a different experience, and that they were not always good.
“Regardless of our individual stories, we all had our struggles during the last four years, whether we can admit it to ourselves or not,” she said.
Ms. Lopez said that these struggles had brought the class together, and prepared them for life after graduation.
“Despite the obstacles you faced, you made it to the end of this journey alongside others who fought just like you. You did it. You are here today and you deserve to be,” said Ms. Lopez, who will attend UCLA to study English.
Framed by mountains and a clear blue sky, the 563 graduates clapped and laughed throughout the ceremony. As they streamed out onto the football field, the crowds filling the bleachers on both sidelines erupted with air horns, noisemakers, and parents trying to get their children’s attention.
Even after the class was seated and settled down, Principle Shanda Herrera could tell they needed to let off more steam.
“Seniors, congratulations on reaching the final event of your high school education. I am going to give you the next minute to stand up, look around, and have a moment of crazy,” said Mrs. Herrera.
The class immediately jumped up and cheered, waving to their families and friends in a surge of teal and black graduation gowns. A beach ball appeared out of nowhere and sailed over their heads.
Mrs. Herrera went on to recognize the extraordinary achievements of Pioneer Valley’s class of 2019. Students who received awards for community service, academics, and club activities stood as the school thanked and congratulated them on their accomplishments.
Mrs. Harrera said that this year’s Senior gift is her favorite gift she’s ever received.
“No joke”, she added.
The senior class gave the school a 25-feet long and 50-foot tall custom made teal and black inflatable run through tunnel. The tunnel ends with Pioneer Valley’s signature panther and comes complete with smoke machines.
“It might be hard to imagine, but trust me, when our football team runs through the mouth of a giant panther head it is going to bring some major school spirit,” said Senior Class Officer Irish Saniatan as she presented the gift.
As the students prepared to walk, Mrs. Herrera reminded them that although their time in high school is over, it will influence the rest of their lives.
“I congratulate all of you today, and I applaud your efforts,” said Mrs. Herrera, “You have set records, completed many achievements, and those will always be a part of your history and legacy.”