Soon-to-be retired Carson High Principal Fred Perdomo welcomed eighth grade students to Carson High for the last time Wednesday. Standing in front of an eager incoming student body, his speech to them was spare on reflection and long on good will.
"I've been here 35 years, I probably had some of your parents as a teacher," he said. "If I stayed around longer, I'd probably have some of your grandkids.
"We are the number-one school in the state. Our graduation rate last year was 86 percent. The state average was 55 percent. We have all races represented here and for the last two years we've made AYP (annual yearly progress) under (No Child Left Behind) ... And we're just getting started."
Carson High will welcome more than 700 incoming freshmen next fall.
Before Perdomo could pass the mic on to equally gregarious members of the student body, a boisterous cheer rang through the school's gym from several hundred eager eighth graders and their parents getting a first blush of what life among 2,500 students would be like.
Some parents, like class of '87 alum Scott Rains, also father of a junior and eighth grader, said things haven't changed too much since he was a student Senator.
"You know, same old," he said. "It's a good school. I went here, so I support it. I think students, for the most part, get what they need."
But some soon-to-be first-time parents of a high schooler carried a little more trepidation.
"My son has Aspergers (a form of autism)," said Cindy Chatley. "We've yet to meet with some of the teachers and (counselors) to see what services are here.
"I think it's a scary thing for any parent."
Nathaniel Chatley, 14, an eighth grader at Carson Middle School, however, seemed to take it all in.
"I'm looking forward to doing some tech classes," he said. "I like programming, and computers. I want to learn more."
Carson students did their best to keep the bleachers packed with eighth graders entertained with skits, cheers and, of course, a little cajoling.
"... Wait a minute, do I hear the class of 2012 in the house," said the evening's emcee Gus DeBacco, part of Link Crew, the school's leadership group. Along with leading student spirit activities, the group helps host a week-long freshman orientation.
Perdomo also touted the school's athletic tradition, noting that as soon as graduation is over "diesel cats are ready to tear out the (football) field and put in a new artificial turf football (and soccer) field."
"That's good," said Alan Vondrak, a parent of a junior, an incoming freshman and older twins who matriculated at CHS and now attend UNR. "We need to step it up in sports a bit ... Especially for a school this size."