by Cameron Calvillo
June 2 was a historic night for over three hundred seniors at Reedley High. The Class of 2017 graduated at the 117th annual Reedley High School Graduation Ceremony.
That day, the seniors arrived at the school at eight o’clock to rehearse the ceremony. That night, at eight o’clock, they walked down the football field in green and white gowns, in the presence of over five thousand family and friends. There was a lot of happy and sad tears before and after the ceremony. “I’m really excited to be graduating, and moving on, but I also don’t want to say goodbye to all my friends,” explains Andrea Ramirez. “They have been all I’ve known for four years now.” That was the attitude of a lot of the graduates that night. The class of 2017 even showed up a few hours early to graduation to snap pictures and hang out like it was just another day at school.
The Class of 2017 had some impressive numbers that night. There were thirty-seven Valedictorians (people who earned a 4.0 GPA or higher for seven semesters of high school) and nine Salutatorians (people who earned a 3.9 GPA or higher for seven semesters of high school). This is a staggering increase from last year’s six Valedictorians. Their names were announced as well as the college they plan on attending. They wore a medal with their name on it over their robes. “It really was worth all the hard work I put into school these past four years,” said Marlene Estrella with a huge smile on her face. “At times, I didn’t think I’d be able to pull through, but somehow, I managed, and now I got this awesome medal!” She plans on attending UC Merced. Students who achieved a 3.5 GPA were also recognized, they wore a green and white cord.
Along with the Valedictorians and Salutatorians, ten students were announced for having received Reedley High’s highest honor, Pirate Pillar. This award is given to five young men and five young women, who fill out an application demonstrating academic success. They also must go through a rigorous interview proving they have overcome challenges and have the character worthy of receiving the honor. These students are the best examples of what it means to be a Reedley High Pirate. These students were Jonathan Bautista, Georgina Cedeno Valedictorian, Sergio Dominguez Valedictorian, Ofelia Ferreya Valedictorian, Selena Garcia Valedictorian, Brooke Hager Valedictorian, Derek Haney Valedictorian, Elliot Santos Valedictorian, Carlos Lemus Valedictorian, and Javier Morales Valedictorian. Their names were announced after the Valedictorians as well as the college they plan on attending. They, too, got a medal with their name and an engraving of a pirate on it.
Of the over three hundred students, thirty-seven Valedictorians, and ten Pirate Pillars, Georgina (Gena) Cedeno is the only student attending an Ivy League College. She is attending Cornell University in the fall. She was also voted most likely to succeed, and for good reason. All her classmates cheered her on as her name was announced. She plans on becoming a surgeon.
Two student speeches were given that night, one by student board member Molli Method Valedictorian and one by Student Body President, Alex Diaz Valedictorian. Molli’s speech encouraged the graduates to never stop learning and never stop growing up. Alex’s speech encouraged her classmates to make the most of their new beginnings. The night ended with an impressive fireworka show and a final singing of the Reedley High Fight Song by the graduates.
After the ceremony, the front of the school was packed with friends and family with flowers and balloons in their hands and tears in their eyes. It was an emotional night for all.
After all the commotion died down, many of the graduates headed to the main gym for Sober Grad Night for one last hurrah with their friends. There was a mechanical bull, which threw a lot of kids off, four bounce house type games, giant hamster balls, a gambling room, a DJ, a pool table, lots of free food, and lots more. Many of the graduates did not leave until five in the morning. All in all, it was a highly emotional and exciting night for the Class of 2017 in Reedley.