Largest class graduates from Pioneer High School

When Monica Quevedo told her fiance, Chris, that she was pregnant, his first response was, "I hope you're going to finish to school."

Not only did she finish, but the 17-year-old mother graduated as valedictorian of the largest-ever senior class at Pioneer High School on Tuesday evening.

"What an honor, a big honor," she said. "I was really excited to be valedictorian."

Although many girls under similar circumstances might have been tempted to drop out of high school, Quevedo said her 17-month-old Anthony, inspired her.

"School became very important at that point," she said. "I knew I had a responsibility that I was always going to have. I tried my hardest because I knew I needed to get a good job."

Quevedo's situation is not unusual at the alternative high school, which provides day care for young parents who are pursuing an education. Salutatorian Loreli Colwell-Howard, 18, and several other students, including one boy, are also raising children.

Kendall Allan, 18, took advantage of the on-site babysitting for her 7-month-old Sadie Rose.

"My daughter needs a mother and a father with an education," she said. "This is a start of what I can give her."

Site Principal Charles Keller bragged about his students to visiting district officials.

"They learned they could be successful," he said. "I am thrilled to death that young mothers are able to have their babies and still get an education. I think it's terrific."

Students are equally proud of the school, which tailors education programs to fit the needs of teenagers who are often work and attend classes.

"They give you a chance," said Cecelia Kelly, 18. "At Carson High School, you either succeed, or you don't. They don't really care."

But with that chance comes the responsibility of being a high school graduate.

"I'm so nervous," said Laura Dobson, 17. "I'm like grown up and can't run to my mom with all my problems. It's definitely a reality check."

It's a reality check most of them are ready to take on.

"I'm stoked," said Tyler Hough, 17. "It's a big accomplishment. Those 12 years are finally done."

Friends and family packed the Performance Hall of the Brewery Arts Center to share the big day with the 31 graduates.

Melissa Fraker brought flowers and a balloon reading, "Way To Go" for her niece Amber Fultz.

"She has worked very, very hard with everything she could have possibly put into it," Fraker said. "Plus, she held a job."


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