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Trojans step up to Generals after graduation

Richland Junior High students enjoyed their final day of being Trojans on Saturday, as they became Shafter High Generals at their commencement.

After being relegated to having a drive-thru graduation in 2020, the class of 2021 was able to walk across the stage and have their family and friends in attendance.

With the Shafter High football stadium going under a major renovation, the graduation was held on the campus of Richland Junior High.

"It was down to the wire, but if at all possible, we wanted this class to graduate with an in-person event. This was a great thing for our graduates and their families," said Richland Superintendent Rosa Romero.

A total of 208 students were presented to Shafter High Principal Russell Shipley, who will be welcoming them as incoming freshmen this fall.

Principal Monica Garza briefly outlined the challenges that this class has had to face to complete their middle school careers.

"Since March 2020, we have all experienced fear, loss, confusion, and anxiety due to the covid-19 pandemic. Never did we imagine that our daily lives would include so many adjustments," said Garza.

Garza said that while the pandemic has taken away so much from their middle school careers, it has also given them many opportunities.

"You have had the opportunity to see your community come together to support one another. When I say community, I am referring to your school community, your family community, and your local community."

Salutatorian Camryn Eubanks said that words like "pandemic, distance learning, Zoom and social distancing have become all too familiar this past year.

"Our Junior High experience was different than any others in history that sometimes it becomes impossible to remember what school was like before this happened."

Valedictorian Quetzal Garcia talked about the pandemic itself and the results that were accomplished by their class.

"Some of us had to deal with huge losses, like the death of a loved one. All students, teachers, principals, and parents had to work hard to make this school year function. Together we adapted so we could succeed," Garcia said.

In addition to each student receiving their diplomas, there were several awards handed out.

New members of the Richland Junior High Honor Society were announced; Quetzal Frida Garcia, Camryn Grace Eubanks, and Eliyah Faith Sanchez.

Every year, there is a Tommy and Tammy Trojan named, who personify the spirit and attitude that is being a Richland Trojan. This year, they were Alex Balderama and Emmy Aguilar. They received a special pen and a medal. The Kathy Mayes Character Counts awards went to Diego Pompa and Andrea Cuevas. The Ray Wiley Awards, given to the outstanding athletes of the class, were given to Miguel Figueroa-Contreras and Caroline McKenzie.

After the speeches, awards, and handing out the diplomas, they continued a tradition as the faculty and staff made a tunnel through the middle of the field, as the new graduates made their way out of the stadium, giving the teachers one more chance to say goodbye.


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