Minarets celebrates graduates

mvoorhis@sierrastar.comJune 10, 2014 

Graduate Hailey Ziegler was thrilled to be able to attend her own graduation. She recently underwent major surgery, and was released from the hospital just two days prior to graduation day. Ziegler plans on attending Carrington College in Sacramento, where she will eventually become a dental hygienist, keeping a focus on her goal of providing dental assistance to those with special needs. Fellow graduates and energized best friends, Michaela Brost and Victoria Owen, plan on attending college in North Dakota.

"I'm sad to be leaving so many people behind, many of whom I'll probably never see again," Brost said, "but I'm also excited to be moving on to a new chapter with new people and new experiences."

While graduate Harley Giles played his guitar, with sophomore Bailey Samper accompanying him on violin, preparing for their performance of "So Far Away" later in the evening, Ag Science teacher Kayla Wood worked on keeping senior Ashlynn Lemon's mortar-board in place.

Other graduates spent time posing for photos with favorite administrators or teachers, and family or friends. Final checks were done on caps personalized with flowers or messages of "Just did it," blinged out with rhinestones or with photos attached of loved ones not in attendance. Hair was smoothed and make-up was re-checked.

Then it was time to begin the end of a journey that began four years ago as 123 Minarets High graduates took center stage last Thursday night. Making their grand entrance, seniors rode two-by-two in Mustangs, and walked (or danced) the red carpet to their seats.

"This is the third graduating class at Minarets, and it's the biggest so far," Principal Mike Niehoff said. "These seniors are definitely very accomplished. They set records academically and athletically. They have lots of creativity and energy ... the class of 2014 has individually and collectively inspired us all."

"This is a very special group to me," added Daniel Ching, director of charter and international programs at Minarets, "because when I first started teaching U.S. and World History, they were my first class, so they've been with me all along. These students have tons of talent, tons of humor and tons of creativity."

Graduate and speaker Matthew Koen said the class of 2014 has definitely left their footprint on the school campus, and expressed gratitude for the freedom and safety net he and his classmates have had while attending Minarets.

Fellow speaker Jesse Parr used the movie The Sixth Sense to get across his point that some may go on to win awards and some may go unnoticed, but all have made a contribution.

"When I think of my favorite movie, I think of the Sixth Sense," Parr said " ... when you think of the movie, you may think of sexy Bruce Willis or that weirdly adorable Haley Joel Osment, but I want to talk about the unknown people — the make-up artists, the camera men, the production assistants — all those who contributed to making that movie a success .... Now imagine that each of the graduates sitting up here is your favorite movie and think of all the people who have contributed to their lives ... As for the director,mine is Jesus Christ. And any students on stage who agree, please stand up with me now." All but a few graduating seniors stood, along with several audience members. There were "amens," hoots and hollers, horns tooting, and loud applause.

With a 4.5 GPA his senior year, Christopher "the Wolf" Wilson was honored to be chosen as valedictorian. His speech covered stagnation and motivation.

"I believe that when you're not moving, that when you're in stagnant waters, it's easy to sink — it's easy for senses to dull," Wilson said. "You need to keep moving in the direction of your choosing because it's all about choice. Procrastination and lack of motivation are mighty adversaries. Treat them with respect and yield as little as possible to them." (Wilson will attend Fresno State, focusing on programming languages necessary in the IT industry).

The songs performed by graduates during the commencement emphasized choices — like the chorus of "It's your Life," sung by graduate Irma Ortiz: "It's your life — what you gonna do? — the world is watching you — every day the choices you make — say what you are and who — your heart beats for — it's an open door — it's your life" (— Francesca Bastistelli).

District and community awards were given out, with Matthew Koen receiving the Superintendent's award. Chawanakee Board President Barbara Bigelow presented Corey Gibson and Sarah McGibbon the Board of Trustee award; Assemblyman Frank Bigelow presented Ashlynn Lemon and Bob Nelson the Future Leaders award; and the Distinguished Scholars, who graduated with a GPA of 4.0 or higher, were named by counselor Claudia vanDenBergh, with Niehoff presenting the awards.

While Chawanakee Superintendent Bob Nelson handed out diplomas, the names of each graduate appeared, along with their future plans, on a large screen, which had been used earlier to show a video honoring the 2014 graduates.

In the video, individual photos of all graduates, flipped out and stacked up one-on-top-of-the-other. Some seniors responded to questions on their favorite high school memory, advice to younger classmen ("Wear deodorant and change your underwear frequently"), thanking someone for their support, and their fear (if any) of life after high school. The last question asked was "How has Minarets affected your life?"

"I wouldn't be the person I am today without Minarets," one graduate responded. "I came in a dumb freshman who didn't care about school at all, and I'm leaving a senior who cares about his future."

Following graduation, Sober Grad was held at 2xtreme Jump Arena in Fresno.

  • "Hailey" Sharon Nadine Marie Ziegler
  • Alana Leigh Holevas
  • Albert Lewis Ellis IV
  • Alexis Caitlin Fulton
  • Analiese Linne Bayt
  • Angel Saenz
  • Arturo Regalado lll
  • Ashlynn Renee Lemon
  • Benjamin Nelson
  • Brandon Anthony Lourence
  • Brandon Wood
  • Breanna Nicole Day
  • Bree Borough
  • Brittany Beck
  • Caitlin Marie Brewer
  • Caleb S. Luther
  • Carl Gary Clouse
  • Catherine Jane Broyles
  • Cedar Drae Robertson
  • Chach Ignacio Martinez Escamilla Jr.
  • Chance Carter
  • Chelsey Nicole Shockley
  • Christina Marie Kieffer
  • Christopher Michael Wilson
  • Ciera Taylor Johnson
  • Cody J. Gibson
  • Colton Matson
  • Conly Biglione
  • Connor G. Reid
  • Corey R. Gibson
  • Cosmo Wang Tracy
  • Courtney Cullins
  • Crystal Denise Piotrowski
  • Dalton E. Hayes
  • Daniel James Lynch
  • Daniel White
  • Danyn Danae Terry
  • Destiny Marie Anger
  • Dominique Mariah Pearce
  • Dora L. Peck
  • Dylan J. Ashcraft
  • Edward "Bo" Campbell III
  • Elizabeth Jean Denney
  • Elizabeth Lynne Draper
  • Eric Ronald Brackney
  • Erik Anderson
  • Erika Ward
  • Gavin C. Rodrigues
  • Grace Robinson
  • Haley E. Honeycutt
  • Hannah Ceceily Gonzalez
  • Hannah Daisy Medrano
  • Harley Giles
  • Himanshu Sharma
  • Hunter Janssen Davis
  • Irma M. Ortiz
  • Isabela Benitez
  • Jackson Mathew Soares
  • Jake DeSilva
  • Janell Milagros Clark
  • Jayson James Clark
  • Jesse Daniel Parr
  • Jordan Cole Christian
  • Jordan Murphy
  • Josue Reyes
  • Kathryn Flores
  • Kathryne Elizabeth Grant
  • Katie Anne McDougald
  • Keenan J. Reardon
  • Ken Abel
  • Kenyon Hundley
  • Kristoffer P. Boline
  • Kyle J. Middleton
  • Kyle Reed
  • Kylinn Sierra Gunderson
  • Lawrence Rendon
  • Lucas Kirby Munton
  • Marissa B Dodd
  • Marissa Lorraine Estabrooke
  • Matthew Bryce Niblett
  • Matthew Koen
  • Megan Elizabeth Hilliard
  • Michael S. Cecil
  • Michaela Elizabeth Brost
  • Michelle Ann Smart
  • Mikaela Fringer
  • Mikayla Kopp
  • Mitch Pritchett
  • Nathanael L Lopez
  • Noah David Cahill
  • Nolan Connor Smith Corippo
  • Paul A. Garrett
  • Richard C. Hoffman
  • Rikki Rogozienski
  • Robert James Mattes
  • Roy Wolley
  • Rylee Nicole Jackson
  • Sadie M. Kubiak
  • Sam Millar
  • Sam Reyes
  • Samantha Grace Moore
  • Samantha Whetten-Monroe
  • Samuel E. Johnson
  • Samuel L. Romero
  • Sarah Audery McGibbon
  • Scott W. Parker
  • Sierra French
  • Sophie Dunkle
  • Steven Johnson
  • Steven M. Albonico
  • Tadhg O'Kelley Flynn
  • Taylor Jean-Marie Meyer
  • Teyler Jean Hale
  • Travis Sundance Burrough
  • Trevor James Williamson
  • Tristan J. Peters
  • Tristen William Polkenhorn
  • Victoria Owen
  • Vince D. Domingo
  • Will Drosche
  • Wilton Charles Wooliever
  • Zeb P. Patterson

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