High school diplomas were presented to 25 graduates of Glacier High School Charter May 30 during ceremonies at Mountain Christian Center.
Gunner Demers presented the student address on behalf of his classmates to the gathering of more than 400.
"I was a little hesitant at first when asked to speak because I'm not good at speaking in front of crowds," Demers said. "But then I thought about how we are all about to embark on a whole new journey, and I'm pretty sure there will be some challenges that might make us feel uncomfortable, so why not begin to overcome some of those challenges now."
Demers, who has a 4.0 GPA, said home schooling has provided great experiences while allowing students to set some of their own goals, strive for their dreams, and work at getting what the students as individuals have chosen for themselves.
He said the next journey is about "determining our individual calling, finding our purpose unique to us and working for that plan ... one thing we can be sure of, is that success and failure will not be in the position we hold or the amount of our paycheck as much as it will be in the joy and passion in our hearts while we work on obtaining our calling."
He plans to attend The Masters College in Santa Clarita in the fall on a partial scholarship.
In addition to his time devoted to studies, Demers worked three, 10-hour shifts a week at Central California Children's Hospital under the mentorship of Dr. Josh Colvin.
"I wouldn't have been able to do that if it was not for the flexibility Glacier provided me," Demers said.
Catherine Wass, one of 12 children of Steve and Melinda Wass of Mariposa, said she enjoyed the freedom Glacier High gave her in selecting her own curriculum. Wass, who is an assistant manager at Mariposa's Pioneer Market, plans on attending West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster to study Bible and political science.
Her father said Glacier has provided a great experience for his daughter because she received a quality education at home and still had the structure of a school environment.
Before receiving their diplomas, each student was introduced by their primary teacher who gave a brief biography on each student. The students were presented their diplomas from the school's Executive Director Michael Cox. Each student was then given a moment to thank teachers, family, and friends for their support.
Glacier oversees a satellite charter school in Kingsburg, and 10 of the graduates were students at that school.
Mark Friesen received the boy's Leadership award and Amanda Elena Gramajo Enzensperger received the girl's Leadership award from Cox.
Demers, who graduated early by taking additional summer school classes the past three years, was honored with the school's Academic Excellence award, and scholarships from Madera County School Board's Association ($200), Adrian Bucca, D.D.S. ($450), Service Organization of the Sierra ($500), and Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club ($1,000).
Another student who graduated early because of her accelerated learning was 15-year-old Elseanna Skowronski.
Three of the graduates Enzenseerger, Frize, and Mayer were praised for completing EMT training provided by Sierra Ambulance Service during the school year.
Special guests at the ceremony included Yosemite Union School District Superintendent James Sargent and district board members Tammy Loveland, Monika Moulin, John Reynolds, Joe Smith, and Christine Wilder.
Other special awards and scholarships were presented to:
Vision Academy- presented by Sue Moore. Awarded to Elseana Skowronski.
Service Organization of the Sierra- presented by Laura Gonzalez. Awarded $500 to Gunner Demers.
Kiwanis- presented by Jim Rice. Awarded $1000 to Mark Friesen.
Dr. Buca- Awarded $700 to Gunner Demers.
Oakhurst Sierra Noon Rotary- presented by Fern Facchino. Awarded $1000 to Gunner Demers.
El Capitan Foundation- presented by Sherry Colgate. Awarded $500 to Mark Friesen and Elseana Skowronski.
Glacier High School Principal Award for Leadership - Awarded to Naama Aloraissi.
Glacier High School Principal Award for Academic Achievement. Awarded to William Baker.
Western Sierra Charter School's Award for Top Male Student. Awarded to Gunner Demers.
Western Sierra Charter School's Award for Top Female Student. Awarded to Amanda Gramajo.
Madera County School Boards Association- presented by Monika Moulin. Awarded $200 to Gunner Demers.
Other graduates were Chasity Ali, Hannah Archibald, Sarah Barboza, Chryssandra Cavazos, Emily Croft, Jade Davidson, Helen Elliott, Karl Heath, Kaitlyn Hobson, Lydia LaTour, Michelle Linn, Morgan Mayer, Alyssa Moreno, Wyatt Morris, Kara Pool, Aleks Tsytsyn, Jonathan Vizcarra and Sabrina Williams.