Seniors in Woodland School District have been through a lot over the past two years. While their years ended a little better than the 2020 senior class, the 2021 class still only had about half of a senior year to really soak it all up.
But on Friday night, all of those things that students have been missing out on in recent years were washed away, if only for a tiny bit, when Pioneer High School honored its senior class with a personal graduation ceremony on its own campus.
Traditionally, Woodland graduation ceremonies had been badly affected by either high winds or unbearable heat. Conditions were perfect for the graduation classes after Cache Creek High School celebrated its graduates in the same field on Friday afternoon.
Last year, Pioneer held a virtual ceremony instead of a personal ceremony. Farewell speakers, administrators and favorite teachers spoke. Prior to the official online ceremony, the high school hosted a drive-through celebration where the seniors literally drove through the Pioneer campus and received their coveted high school diplomas.
This year, Pioneer had a classic ceremony in front of a relatively crowded stadium. After a brief introduction by headmistress Sandra Reese, the graduates walked the route to their places in the field.
Before the ceremony officially began, Superintendent Tom Pritchard, who will retire in October, said a few words.
“Graduation is a time to reflect on yesterday, appreciate today, and anticipate the endless possibilities of tomorrow,” said Pritchard. “I’m sure it feels like you nervously met kids in kindergarten just moments ago, only to find that they are sitting next to you as lifelong friends today. Your path today was undoubtedly a challenge, but each of you has overcome obstacles to be here today. “
Next came the farewell speech from Pioneer’s best student, Fernanda Tovar Lara.
Pioneer High School students graduate on Friday night. CARLOS GUERRERO – DAILY DEMOCRAT
“Unfortunately, our class didn’t have a full junior or senior year,” Lara said during her speech. “Instead, we had to face a reality enforced by a pandemic that left many of us with a sense of loneliness, insecurity, and even grief and grief. Even so, our resilient class managed to make the best of the situation. Flexibility has become our second nature. Today we are here at our graduation ceremony, but this is a reality we found it difficult to imagine a few months ago. However, this reality would not have been possible without our supportive and sometimes stressful teachers, our lovable but suffocating guardians, our loyal and overly blunt friends and, last but not least, 99% of our sanity. “
After the speech, three other students, including Hannah Bradshaw, Hanna Medina, and Ximena Bravo, each had their own moments on the microphone.
Senior class presidents Estevan Romero and Morgann Winger then presented the senior class gift to the 2022 class.
After the class roll call, some students tossed their hats in the air and started mingling with family members, friends, and classmates in the field.
“It feels fantastic to be having personal graduations again this year,” said Jake Whitaker, President of the Woodland School Board, who attended with the rest of the board. “A lot of work and community work was done to make this possible. It’s important to us to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates, and especially the Class of 2021, who survived two years of school where public education was disrupted by an unprecedented global pandemic.