Motivated Mustangs

ttuell@sierrastar.comJune 11, 2013 

Excitement was in the air as 77 Minarets High School seniors, full of hopes and dreams for the future, walked across the stage to receive their high school diplomas last Thursday night. The evening began with each senior arriving in the back of a Ford Mustang and dancing down the red carpet to a song of their choice.

"It was pretty fun, but it hasn't really hit me yet," said senior Marshall Lewis, 17.

The commencement ceremony began with a welcome by principal Michael Niehoff. Senior Zena Samuelson then lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance and senior Breanna Cairns sang the National Anthem. Class speakers included Samuelson, Samantha Alspaw, and Natori Hatfield. Musical selections were performed by seniors Samuelson, Rosie Watson, Hatfield, who was accompanied by Bailey Samper, and Miranda Ashton and Ariana Atilano.

District and community awards were given by Chawanakee Board President Barbara Bigelow and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow to Cairns, Danielle Reimer, and Anne Marie Spencer. Minarets teacher GeGe Drozen presented CSF Awards to Atilano and Joshua Dowell. The 27 Distinguished Scholars, who graduated with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, were presented awards by counselor Claudia vanDenBergh.

The Minarets Class of 2013 had two valedictorians — Danielle Reimer, 17, and Brett Hendrickson, 18. Both gave two very different speeches, but both were met with applause.

"It means that everything I have been through and how hard I have worked to get to where I am now (has) paid off," Reimer said.

Reimer, who has attended Minarets all four years of high school, said she was ecstatic when she learned that she was one of two Class of 2013 valedictorians.

Reimer shared with the graduation crowd that her high school career didn't start off under the best circumstances. Reimer began her freshman year of high school two days after getting out of the hospital. She said the healing process took quite a while, which set her back in some academic subjects.

"I conquered these things by going slow, getting involved, enjoying friends, working hard, and overall, focusing on the positive and learning to be happy," Reimer said.

Reimer has been involved in a number of groups throughout her high school career. She was involved in Future Farmers of America (FFA) as secretary, Minarets' Parliamentary Procedure Team, Key Club, and California Scholarship Federation — where she is now a life member. Reimer was also involved in Minarets media, photography, and music.

"I have developed great life skills through everything I have been involved in," Reimer said"

Reimer plans to attend Azusa Pacific University in the fall as a Dean's Scholar and she will pursue a degree in psychology with a minor in communication studies. She hopes to one day become either a Pediatric Psychologist or Child Life Specialist.

"I feel content and excited for whatever lies ahead," Reimer said. "I hope to become the best me I can be. No matter how cheesy that sounds, it's true. I don't think one can ever stop growing in life, and I am excited to see how I will grow in many different ways."

Hendrickson's speech came in the form of a poem about Sponge Bob — which left the crowd laughing, but also left them with something to think about.

"There is no honor if you are not happy," Hendrickson said. "Sponge Bob's honor comes from his passion flipping patties. He does what he does because he loves what he does, not because he wanted to please mammy and pappy. Success is not measured by assets and how much money you get. So, like Sponge Bob, I'll find what I love and let it kill me. I won't settle or allow any intrusions, because joy is joy no matter what you say and money and power are just illusions."

Hendrickson attended Minarets his sophomore through senior year and was been very involved at the school.

He participated in FFA, Parliamentary Procedure, mock trial, and what he calls "the greatest amateur band ever" — "The Goods" — where he was sang and played the drums and keyboard. Hendrickson also played football, basketball and baseball and was the JV/varsity football and basketball announcer.

Some of his accomplishments include becoming an Eagle Scout, Boy's State Delegate, California, 2012 Varsity Basketball MVP and Best Offensive Player, 2012 and 2013 Slick Rock Film Festival Finalist, 2012 and 2013 Minarets Media Award Winner, and 2013 California Student Media Festival for "Best Use of Humor."

When asked how hard he worked to be named valedictorian, he replied, "I just did my work."

Hendrickson joined the U.S. Marine Corps last November and will ship out to basic training in August.

Tabitha Sanchez, 17, said graduation was surreal and it didn't hit her how real it was until the day before graduation.

Even though Sanchez just graduated, she already has a jump-start on her career. During her senior year, she worked as a marketing intern for Spencer Hill Press. Sanchez originally learned that Spencer Hill was looking for interns through her book blog — The interview process to become an intern was extensive and there were a lot of applicants, so Sanchez was excited when she learned she had been chosen.

Since then, Sanchez has been busy researching and marketing new authors. The internship is indefinite, so Sanchez plans to continue the internship through college.

Although busy with school and an internship, Sanchez still finds time for her blog, which has more than 600 followers. Her love of books began a few years ago in English class. She started following a book blogger online and finally decided to start her own blog. Before starting her blog, she said she read about 20 to 30 books a year — now she reads 200 books a year. Sanchez's book blog has enabled her to meet authors who ask her to review their book.

Sanchez plans to study English Literature and book publishing at Pace University in New York. She hopes to share with the rest of the world that reading is exciting and that it can impact your life.

"A few years ago I went through a hard time, so I would read," Sanchez said. "It's a good way to cope and relate to what you're going through."

Another one of Sanchez's accomplishments this year was a book drive she and Reimer held for their senior legacy project. They were able to obtain 1,200 books, which they donated to the Marjaree Mason Center in Fresno and the Sacramento Children's Home.

Reimer, Hendrickson, and Sanchez are just three of the 77 Minarets graduates, but Niehoff has high hopes for all of them.

"At Minarets, this group has been innovative, creative and hard working," Niehoff said. "But more importantly, they have been individual thinkers who enjoy learning, working and producing in their own, unique ways. The future of work and success in our new economy is going to depend on these types of thinkers. I think they are ready. And thank goodness because we need them."

2013 Minarets High School Graduates:

Sierra Airey
Daisy Karissa Allison
Samantha Hope Alspaw
Andru A. Alvarez
Juan A. Alvarez
Marco Antonio Angulo
Miranda Requa Ashton
Ariana Atilano
Margaret M. Berrier — Distinguished Scholar
Cayla Ann Bordwine — Distinguished Scholar
Breanna Kimberly Cairns — Distinguished Scholar
Stephanie Kateryna Chavez
Hayley Loretta Childress
Stefani Christianson — Distinguished Scholar
Tyson Glen Conti
Nevada Cook
Jacob Corchine
Jarred Michael Crossley
Jamie Kristine-Lee Darr
Christian Gregory Dela Torre
Carli Jean Domler
Joshua Tyler Dowell — Distinguished Scholar
Raymond E. Ellis
Noah Evans — Distinguished Scholar
James F. Fairchild
Evan James Franz
Kevin Christian Glazener
Nathan D. Glenos
James Alexander Gonzalez — Distinguished Scholar
Natori Leora Hatfield — Distinguished Scholar
Anthony J. Heinz
Brett R. Hendrickson — Distinguished Scholar
Abel Hernandez
Timothy Michael Hessling
Reid Christopher Hillerman
Alexander J. Holt — Distinguished Scholar
Daniel Scott Hooker — Distinguished Scholar
Alyssa Grace Hoppenrath
Ashley M. Kern
Alexis Kochackis
Samantha Kathryn Krob — Distinguished Scholar
Paul M. La Spada Jr. — Distinguished Scholar
Joseph M. Lee
Marshall Steven Lewis
Matt Luce
Cooper R. Manley
Edward S. Martinez
Keresa Tamar McIntire — Distinguished Scholar
Destany Star Morgan — Distinguished Scholar
Jane Najera
Ian Lee Newberry
Rachel C. Olivas
Austin James Pimentel
Erik C. Pincus
Jeremiah J. Pliche
Kathryn Elizabeth Prather — Distinguished Scholar
Heather Ashley Reichard — Distinguished Scholar
Danielle Christine Reimer — Distinguished Scholar
Ethan Kyle Riemer
Hayden R. Righter
Tiffany Ann Rodriguez
Nathan J. Roller
Anna Louisa Ruiz
Zena Eve Samuelson — Distinguished Scholar
Tabitha Sanchez
Jordan Michelle Smith — Distinguished Scholar
Anne Marie Elizabeth Spencer — Distinguished Scholar
Brittany Steinberg
Patrick C. Stephens
Destanee Mary Anne Costa-Stevenson — Distinguished Scholar
Craig William Talbot — Distinguished Scholar
Nicholas A. Tapia — Distinguished Scholar
Karah Lynn Varner — Distinguished Scholar
Effie Abigail Velasco — Distinguished Scholar
Rachel Athena Elisabeth Verduzco
Rosie Elizabeth Watson — Distinguished Scholar
Kristle Harmony-Lynn Wilson

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