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Generals celebrate a new chapter at graduation

The Shafter High football stadium was the site for a celebration as students walked across the stage as seniors and stepped down as graduates. There were 410 graduates this year, one of the largest classes in Shafter High history.

It also was memorable because they were freshmen that began their high school careers by studying online, the first class that was hampered by required distance learning, due to the covid-19 pandemic. The class didn't even get to gather in person for a year into their high school careers. This was highlighted in the speeches given by four students of the graduating class, who gave tales of camaraderie, challenges, distance, friendships and triumph.

Principal Russell Shipley welcomed the standing room only crowd, thanking them for the fantastic job in raising this wonderful class of young men and women. "They will always be a special group of kids, not just because of the challenges that they faced, but also because of the wonderful accomplishments that they achieved."

One of the speakers, Associated Student Body President Alex Aguirre, mentioned the happy times that the class enjoyed, as well as the unique obstacles that they faced. "2020, our freshmen year, as many of you know as the covid year, was an adventure. But we overcame so much, making it a wonderful adventure."

Another speaker, Yolanda Bailey, spoke about the way that this class had overcome so much, shaping them into the accomplished young men and women that they are today. "Our immense capability and resilience have brought us here, every one of you conquering a dream. I am filled with joy at the thought of our shared success. As we now move on to the next journey in our lives, whether it is college, the military, a trade school or entering the workforce, I am confident in our ability to conquer new heights."

Bailey is familiar with conquering challenges. When Principal Shipley announced the winners of the Stringham Awards, there were five students tied for the top GPA of the class, each of them with a perfect GPA.

Bailey was unique in that she maintained a perfect GPA while also earning two associates degrees from Bakersfield College. She walked across the stage at the Bakersfield College graduation ceremony, receiving an AA in liberal studies and an AA in business. She also completed her Project Lead the Way program in biomedical engineering, earning top honors in that program as well.

Among the other students joining Bailey at the top of the class were Jeffrey Vander Poel, Fabian Denogean, Nataly Leyva and Valery Lopez Vicente. Shipley also commented that 40 percent of the graduating class had earned honor roll status at time of graduation. "This class has been through so much, but they have proven that they are perfect examples of the pride, accomplishment and determination of what makes Generals who they are."

 

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