The Pirates and Panthers Aim High

Jun 19, 2010 | 2010 Articles, Contributors, Education, Jacob Alvarado, Lorie Lewis Ham, Reedley News, Teens

by Lorie Lewis Ham

Reedley and Parlier High Graduations
With thoughts from RHS graduates,
Samantha McMilin and Jacob Alvarado

As the wind played roughly with the row of flags on the stadium field, the Reedley High School Graduation attendees shivered from the unexpected cold, huddled in their seats and along the fence, while waiting anxiously for their students to arrive and take the seats on the field below. The RHS Pirate Band entertained the crowds with “New York, New York” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” in preparation to play “Pomp and Circumstance” as approximately 400 graduates walked between the flags to their seats in green and white rows of four this June 10th, 2010.

RHS graduation

This was my second high school graduation ever — having been home-schooled myself, I don’t even have a graduation ceremony of my own to remember. To my surprise, the ceremony actually began a few minutes early and my heart swelled with pride as the students began their processional between the flags that represented each of the schools in the Kings Canyon Unified School District. I knew so many of these kids through my work with the RHS Drama Club and my daughter’s involvement in choir. The girls all wore white gowns and the boys green. Family and friends who had been waiting and shivering now snapped to attention, their video and digital cameras at the ready.

Once all were seated, Principal Rodney Cisneros welcomed everyone amidst a group of red and green balloons being released into the air. The Senior Counselor, Tudy Tritch, gave a brief yet moving speech about her students after introducing the students wearing green and white cords, which denote cumulative GPAs of 3.5 and above. Student board member Randy Bricker introduced his replacement for next year, Lana Routan.

RHS graduation

Next, the Senior members of the Madrigal Choir performed their rendition of “Lean on Me.” This magazine’s own Jacob Alvarado had a solo and sang beautifully. Laura Penner and Sean Hixson also had solos that brought cheers from the crowd with everyone getting into the spirit and clapping along. I was especially proud as I noticed that so many of the Madrigals were among the top students of the class of 2010.

Valedictorian Brianna Lynn Vaccari gave her speech, which had an appropriate Pirate Ship theme, filled with references to a voyage, adventure and triumphing even over rough seas. It was clever and inspiring.

graduation night fireworksAwards were given out, top students recognized, touching stories of student’s triumph over hardship, and finally the presentation of the diplomas. My daughter and I cheered as those we knew accepted theirs, and I cheered loudest for Antonio Sandoval who had become a part of our family over the past few years and is now going on to great things at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. So many of these kids will go on to great things and make Reedley proud. It was sad though to see how many of the top students who had been accepted to State and University of California schools were opting to attend a community college — no doubt a sign of the struggling economy.

For those of us in attendance, the evening ended at 9:20pm with Principal Cisneros quoting from Proverbs 16 then the sky lit up with fireworks. Many of the graduates, after taking time to greet family and friends in front of the Performing Arts Theater, went on to the Sober Grad party.

Parlier High graduation

front row, left to right: Jessica Manzo, Jesus, Celene Mendez and Erik Guerra

On the previous night, June 9, I attended the much smaller graduation of Parlier High School where I watched Kings River Life Magazine’s own Jesus Ibarra graduate from the best class the school had seen in three years. “Nine out of 10 of the top 10 students are all going to UCs,” said Jesus. He himself will be attending UCLA in the fall. The 2010 class also boasted the largest amount of scholarship money the school had ever seen, well over $700,000. While the graduating class in Parlier was much smaller at 184, the ceremonies were much the same and greeted with the same pride and enthusiasm.

Two of the RHS graduates shared their graduation day with KRL from start to finish.

Mrs. Gloop, Augustus & reporter

left to right: Samantha as Mrs. Gloop, James Clark as Augustus and Michael Angel as Reporter in Willy Wonka

Samantha McMilin was in choir and Drama Club, as pictured above;
here’s her Graduation Day Journal:

6:30am — I woke up and I rolled over to shut the alarm off. I stared up at the ceiling wondering how I was going to get through this day. I wasn’t very sure of myself as I arose to head to practice.

8:00am — Practice was supposed to start at 7:45 but we are barely getting started. Four hundred people are not easy to manipulate I’ve learned.

11:00am — Well, we are done with practice. Now it’s off to home to sleep for a while.

2:45pm — I have awoken for the last time and I have given up on rest. I begin to watch TV when my friend calls me and suggests that we go to the park and blow some bubbles. I felt like it would be the last time I would be able to act the way I wanted to, so I went, and had a blast.

4:30pm — When I get home from the park, I needed to shower and get ready. When I finally get my hair dry, I realize that when I try to curl it that it’s not turning out the way I wanted at all. Eventually we get it right and it’s on to makeup.

6:30pm — I’m at the school looking for my boyfriend and his family. When I do find them, I say quick hellos and it’s off to the locker rooms. When I first arrived at school, I ran into friends Megan, Jessica, and Lorie waiting in line outside the stadium gates and offered quick hugs all around.

7:30pm — They say it’s time to line up but I’m not ready. I feel like my childhood is slipping away with the time.

8:30pm — On the field and ready to go. Just a matter of time now!

9:30pm — All finished and proud to finally be an official alumna of Reedley High School! I have been through many things in my life but high school has been the most memorable!!!

10:00pm — We all gather back at my house for some refreshments and then it’s off to Sober Grad!!

11:15pm — Inside Sober Grad is awesome!!! I really think I’m going to have a lot of fun.

3:30am — It’s really late but I’m still going strong! I’ve ridden the mechanical bull and played blackjack and eaten more than my fair share of chocolate-covered marshmallows!

5:30am — I’m so tired I don’t think I can sleep. I won a bath towel and I’m mad because my ride isn’t here yet. I will go home and sleep for the next ten years.

It was all worth the pain and sweat it took to get me here but I can’t help but wonder what the heck I’m going to do on Monday?

Sam and Jacob

Samantha McMilin and Jacob Alvarado in front of the PAT after graduating

Jacob Alvarado was also in choir and Drama Club, is a KRL teen correspondent and recently shared some of his RHS Drama experiences with us. We look forward to more articles from him over the next year while he attends Reedley College.

Jacob’s Graduation Day Journal:

June 9th — The graduation jitters are beginning to hit me. I’m just thinking, “OMG, I’m gonna be literally out of high school in 24 hours.”

June 10th, 7:45am — Got to graduation practice and just realized that I’m gonna be here for the next four hours. It’s hot and having to go through the entire program is totally boring. Because my last name starts with an ‘A’, I have to wait and watch every single graduate come up and practice getting their diploma.

2:00pm — Came back to the football field for Madrigal practice. When I was singing my solo, I felt a rush because I realized that, in about seven hours, I’d be singing in front of a whole stadium of people. The adrenaline is slowly forming.

4:30pm — Laramie Woolsey, Aimee Lewis and I have a pre-graduation photo shoot at my house. J

5:15pm — I arrive at the school and get searched. Yea, like I’m gonna bring anything illegal and risk not graduating.

5:30-8:00pm — Wait forever for the ceremony to begin.

8:15pm — I sit in my seat and wait patiently to sing. The nerves are practically shooting out of my fingertips. lol

9:00pm — The Senior members of the Madrigals sing together for the last time. “Lean on me, when you’re not strong.”

9:30pm — I get my diploma case and sit and wait to exit the stadium to get my actual diploma.

9:45pm — Take pictures with my family and friends and then head home to get ready for Sober Grad.

10:30pm-5:30am — Party the night away at Sober Grad with all my friends.

June 11th, 6:00am — Take a shower and hit the pillow and sleep till noon.

I just have to say, my graduation was an experience that I won’t soon forget.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.