With tears, laughs, and stylish rides, 111 graduate as proud Mustangs from Minarets High School

Minarets High School graduation ceremony, 2017.
Minarets High School graduation ceremony, 2017. Sierra Star

Astride the back of colorful convertibles, with bright smiles and sometimes teary eyes, 111 senior students joined the ranks of Minarets High School alumni Thursday night as they celebrated, with style and professionalism, their graduation as the class of 2017 in front of a packed, cheering crowd.

“It’s been an honor, you guys,” Principal Daniel Ching told the students as they prepared for their outdoor ceremony inside the Minarets gym. “I know some of you have had great times, I know some of you have had some low times, and recovered. I believe every single one of the 111 of you are going to do great things. I want to tell you that I know all the staff feel the same way. Every single one of you, we love you, from the bottom of our hearts. And we’re going to miss all of you.”

The night was defined by joy as each student, many with customized graduation caps, expressed relief, anticipation for the future, and gratitude to the friends, family, and community that helped guide them to one of the most important nights yet in their young lives.

Every student beamed with pride as they were driven up to the outdoor stage, mostly in pairs, astride a Ford Mustang courtesy of the Central Valley Mustang Club (, and walked - or danced - the carpet to a seat to the song of their choice.

In a shared speech, valedictorians Savanna “Savie” Luce, Delaney Finnegan, and Kaitlyn “Katie” Low - who will attend UC Merced, Chapman University, and UC Davis - said though Minarets helped them achieve great things, their time as Mustangs also gave them the courage they need for their futures.

“All of our successes at this school are only the beginning of what we are capable of,” Luce said of the 2017 class. “And courage is what allows us to strive even further as we begin our journey.”

“Our message to you all is this,” Finnegan and Low said. “Your goals are within reach. You just have to be brave enough to pursue them.”

Before the ceremony, graduates showed off their customized caps, some with phrases like “Can I take a nap now,” to famous characters like turtles Crush and Squirt from Finding Nemo, or the Fresh Prince of Bel Air with a phrase reading “Yo homes, smell ya later.”

“I may have said that to a few people sometimes,” laughed Gianna Paolinelli, who had the Fresh Prince hat. “But it’s been great here. I’m a bit nervous, but tonight’s all about fun.”

Along with the valedictorians, 23 students also graduated as Distinguished Scholars, with GPAs above 4.0.

The Minarets Show Band provided live entertainment, while graduate Lucy Cummings sang the National Anthem to loud applause.

Other speakers on the night included graduates Kristen Berry, Mia Corippo, Jordyn Samper, and Alfonso Torres Jr., alongside officials from the Chawanakee Unified School District.

The 2017 class is the sixth class to graduate from Minarets High School.

For live videos from the ceremony, including interviews with the Mustang valedictorians, visit the Sierra Star’s Facebook page at For a video of the full ceremony, visit the Minarets High School Facebook page at

For a full story and additional photos, see the June 15 edition of the Sierra Star.

Graduates list


Savanna Catherine Luce

Delaney Amanda Finnegan

Kaitlyn MacKenzie Low

Distinguished scholars

McKayla Elizabeth Batty

Kristen Nicole Berry

Camryn Chase

Lauryn Nicole Clement

Griffin Steven Encinas

Madeleine Virginia Finnegan

Molly Rose Leeper

Annabelle C. Lowndes

Sophia Katharine Manning

Lluvia Moreno

McKenzie Thomas Olivas

Sarah Marie Parker

Melissa Regalado

Andrew Joseph Rezendes

Jordyn Marie Samper

Gina Michele Smith

Hunter Patric Thompson

Sevanna Morgan Von Ah

Makinley Anne Wright

Phatcharin Yang


Allyson Nicole Walsh

Mia Caroline Corippo

Shelby Rose Hershberger

Skylar Elizabeth Wayte

Ronald Joseph Kephart

Ashley Diane Kruser

Lauryn Nichole Martin

Alexis Grace Fringer

Zane Myles Zukovsky

Tommy L. Lane

Connor Simon Reardon

Caden Connor Flynn

Victoria Rose Giffen

Connor Edward Baltz

Samantha Arlene Waag

Madisyn Maree Beyer

Joseph Gabriel Sanchez

Michael Jeff Tobey

Alexis J Saldana

Kirsten Danielle Sexton

Gianna Elizabeth Paolinelli

Jaelen Timothy Reed Kinchen

Noah Edward Walters

Nathan Z. Stritzel

Cheyenne Lynn Peyton Priest

Taylor Leigh Schaeffer

Zemi E. Stacy

Jessie Lee Miles

Jonathan William Hunt

Alissa Jennifer Adam

Dora Zarate

Elizabeth C. Wiles

Noah M. Rodrigues

Tyler Thomas Grube

Elena Noelle Cordle

Alfonso Furr Torres Jr.

Jesse Thomas Martin

Tatiana Lee Freeland

Ryan Rudy Verduzco

Kathleen Christina McLeod

Matthew A. Blumberg-Sewell

Brianna Alene Roland

Hannah Joan Hardcastle

Nathan Pearce

Tally Celeste Scott

Wyatt Wristen

Savanna Clare Shipp

Madalyn L. Phillips

Victoria Leanne Soliz

Jade Sherie Delude

Cidney Belle Lowry

Zev Charles Dweck

Chase William Piercy

Cameron Christopher Salazar

Lucy Virginia Cummings

Sydney Johnson

Neil Thomas Williamson

Josue Adrian Ramirez

Joshua Duane Weir

Glen Edward Martin III

William Jack Hartsock

Vanessa Salmarie Sanchez

Hallie Rose Righter

Simone K. Munton

Malory Fantonilla Patchell

James Riley Backmann

Drew Tate Robertson

Jakob Harold Walker

Thomas Trefon Nicolulis

Grant Denney

Austin Blake Niblett

Morgan Madison

Dylan Taylor Sheets

Luke Andin Pritchett

Jacob Michael Kuiper

Christian William Conti

Chase Michael Gauthier

Michael David Rendon

Lazarus X. Uribe

Claudia Christine Sanchez

Alma Delia Chairez-Lechuga

Vanessa Marie Hernandez

Garritt G. Press

Dimitri Moises Agundez

Krysten Leigh Siebert

Joshua Andrew Nelson

Oscar Neri Jr.

Emily Cox