With students as young as 17 and older than 50, graduates of Yosemite Unified School District’s Alternative Education and Adult Education schools were celebrated last week inside Mountain Christian Center.
Perhaps none of the proud diploma recipients stood out more than Elizabeth Jayne Weiner, a 58-year-old graduate who gave a passionate speech to a crowd of some 200 people.
“I didn’t realize how my decision to quit school would affect my life in so many ways,” said Weiner, who dropped out of school at age 16 after attending 18 different campuses in three states. “The worst effect of all was it eventually undermined the strong self respect, and sense of self worth, that my mother instilled in me ... That strong sense of self worth is back. I no longer feel like I left something important unfinished.”
Randy Haggard, principal of Ahwahnee High School, Evergreen High School, Foothill High School, and Yosemite Adult High School, said that mentality was the goal of each location.
“We really focus on what each student needs to get to their goals, and get to their graduation,” Haggard said. “This is really life changing, and I am so proud of all of them.”
With every graduate at the ceremony, held June 3, there was a story waiting to be told, such as that of Deseray Cotton, who graduated from Evergreen High School.
Cotton was awarded $250 by Oakhurst Sierra Sunrise Rotary for her senior project - training her pitbull Beau to detect high and blow blood sugar given her status as a diabetic.
Several other students were given awards from $250 to $750 for their hard work from the Sunrise Rotary, Soroptimist of the Sierras, Positive Living Center, and El Capitan Education Foundation.
Yosemite Unified School District Class of 2016
Ahwahnee High School
Cameron Altimus, Shane Patrick Michael Burgin, Wesley Dane Cuthbert, Mary Rose Bayome Ellou Davis, Kenneth Lincoln Isberg, Ryan Vincent Kramer, Alexandra Marie Rounsvill Simpson, Samantha Rose Sullivan.
Evergreen High School
Angelanne Abbygale Adams, Brenden B. Atchison, Jack David Carter, Sarah L. Cates, Deseray P. Cotton, Robert Melvin Day III, Miranda T. Deal, Sara L. Domler, Destanee A. Fleming, Audrey Redfeather Hammond, Quinn Robert Moody, Kyla Shayann O’Neal Murray, Kaitlyn M. Pack, Brandi Alexis Paradiso, Allison C. Patterson, Donovan Pietruszka, Hunter Ashlynn Riggs, Mackayla Michelle-Jo Romero, Delia Siohban Salinas, Sterling Starner, Madison Caitlin Weber, Loren J. Weigand.
Foothill High School
Jeesica Marilyn Castanon, Joell Layne Matteson.
Yosemite Adult High School
Sabrina Marie Barbara Adams, Rhiannon Desiree Alonzo, Bridgette Brannan, Matthew Cecilio Costilla, Sarah Marie Dailey, Jamie R. Dover, Mary Kathleen Glick, Victoria Gorba, Kyle Bradly Hoffman, Adam Michael Holthouser, Shannon Renee Johnson, Matthew T. Kraft, Ethan Long, Brettney Montgomery, Tristan Lee Paxton, Alexis Barbara Pritchard, Alexis McKenzie Russell, Elizabeth Jayne Weiner, Joseph Thomas Woolsey.
NOTE: For additional photos, see www.sierrastar.com.