A stylish Minarets graduation

The lore of Minarets High School grew by 130 alumni last week as senior students, astride the back of colorful convertible vehicles, were carried to the stage in front of hundreds to receive their diplomas as proud Mustang graduates.

Student feelings during the graduation ceremony were ones of joy, giddy anticipation, and gratitude to the friends, family, and community that helped guide them to one of the most memorable moments they had yet experienced.

In a speech shared among valedictorians Kelea Kamalani, Sienna Pillsbury, and Hannah Finnegan - bound for UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, and UC San Diego - those emotions were given a voice.

“Shortly, we will mark the end of this chapter with a simple handshake and the pass of a diploma,” Finnegan said. “But more importantly, we will turn the page to a new life as individuals of our own ... Whether it’s children, politics, education, medicine, the environment, or anything in between, we all have something so dear to our heart that we can do nothing but dedicate our lives to making a difference.”

Once the students - usually in pairs - had traveled up to the stage riding on Ford Mustangs courtesy every year of Central Valley Mustang Club, they strode with pride, some dancing, to the stage over a song of their choice amidst cheers from the crowd.

Beforehand, many showed off their caps, also decorated with strong Mustang spirit, in the Minarets gymnasium and hour before the 7 p.m. ceremony June 2.

“I’m a little nervous,” chuckled Sabrina Sanchez, her cap painted as a melting clock from famous painting “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali. “But I’ve, well we’ve, all been waiting for this a long time. The day has finally come. It’s really exciting.”

Some caps were painted with famous characters, such as Peter Pan or Lion King’s Mufasa with inscriptions of wisdom, or words like “My Future’s A Bruin” in reference to attending UCLA.

As he closed the ceremonies, Principal Daniel Ching thanked all families for helping his Mustangs succeed, and the students themselves for following the Minarets ideals of “Go Big, Go Pro, Go Now.”

“You are on the cusp of a lifetime of adventure,” Ching told the students. “Embrace the challenges and relish in your ability to overcome them. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t change the world. You can, and you will. Dare to dream, dream big, and then go out and conquer. Remember your roots, your family, and the people who love you. We are so very proud of you. You deserve all of the success that will inevitably come your way.”

Minarets High School set up a livestream of the event. The recorded video can be seen by visiting

Evan Cicoletti and the Minarets Show Band provided musical entertainment before the ceremony, and violinist/graduate Bailey Samper played the National Anthem.

The 2016 students are Minarets High School’s fifth graduating class. Valedictorians included Kamalani, Pillsbury, Finnegan, Julio Lopez (San Diego State), and Michael Warnert (UC Davis).

Minarets High Class of 2016

Christian Mackintosh Low, Christian Makana Smith, Andrew Michael Carrick, Nicholas Newman, Jacob Isaac Paskell, Rachel Marie Hooker, Michaela Anne Scott, Calvin Simon Cacy, Kelea Tenaya Akeakamai Kamalani, Jacob Frederick, Caanin Ray Ramsey Fausone, Nicholas Lee Rousey, Shakoda Hodge, Peyton Dawn Michelson, Drew LaSpada, Tristin Michael Ian Jacobs, Kassadee A. Von Ah, Dylan W. Castleman, Logan Alexander Christian, Stephen James Gaal, Burton Robinson, Benjamin Andrew Mollet, Ridge S. Childress, Trevor N. Lamley, James Hansen, Jazper Grant Thomas Phillips, Brett Mellon, Wyatt Cameron Pittenger, Dekota LeeAnn Kyriss, Brooklyn Cathleen Baker, Madison Pearson, Kaleb Jerome Ramsey Fausone, Michaela Christine Meuse, Danielle Renee Johnson, Noah Joseph Jones, Sarah Pauline Scott, Makayla Elizabeth Demeusy, Luke Skinner, Tryston Lewis, Terrance Kent Jael Oldham, Ginger Bellisario, David Jacob Fuller, Dallas Wayne Ghent, Isabella Renee Clark, Bree Marie Ramirez, Sabrina N. Sanchez, Kari Leigh McDougald, Hallie Sue Grant, Nicholas Edward Fenton, Jacob Little, Steven Plummer, Kailey Douglass Lemon, Jamie Renee Reichard, Savannah Elizabeth Nelson, Patricia Marie Thomasian, Brianna Alexandria Madrid, Holland Alana Burrows, Eric Benjamin Ham, David Michael Broyles III, Julio David Lopez, Michael Robert Warnert, William Najera, Devin M. Bahramand, Kyle Hopkins, Jacob D. Crossley, Mason Blake Thomas, Taylor Ryan Thomas, Jacob Vela, Bailey Ann Samper, Jordan Lynn Miles, Roman Gonzalez, Marranda Jo Gonzalez, Elizabeth Louise Ong, Chasie Shaylene Burrough, Samantha Weir, Alexandra Pamela Lanfranco, Shyann Elizabeth Mattes, Chad Hunter King, Austin L. Boatright, Kaylee Noelle Saar, Samantha Lyn Grant, Anabel Rose Padilla, Jessica Nicole Cahill, Beth Wilson, Alexis Victoria Schweikert, Kyle Julian Bedwell, Sienna Pillsbury, Teresa Hope Bernadette Spencer, Natalie Elge Chamberlain, David Michael Ortiz, Chris Tony Escamilla, Brandon Medina, Hannah Sierra Finnegan, Jared Daniel Varner, Brendon Bourdet, Jeremiah Benzie, Dallin Joseph Mello, Hayden Russell Alford, Kylie Anne Kuiper, Angel Domingo, Rose Marie Morgan, Evan Willow Cicoletti, Dazsha Bullard, Baylee Avina, Kaylynne Leann Moglia, Ashley N. Ortega, Cheyenne Lee Whitener, Catherine Elizabeth Hoffman, Kimberlee Mckena Alcocer, Hunter Joan Hutchens, Carlee Rose Boomer, Holly Walsh, Allison Tuesday Medrano, Remington Lee, Gabrielle A. Freeland, Megan Katheryn Fishback, Mason Conrad Ellis, Alexander Craig Bourdet, Aaron Clay, Riley Hillerman, Samuel Sigmund Smith, Gianna Nicole Angelina Sidoti, Holden Cordle, Joseph Salazar, Dalilah Mia Ybarra, Delaney Grace Reardon, Faith Makenna Noland, Hannah Noel Cockerham.