Pioneer High School graduate Ser’Rae Foster’s family celebrates as she walks out the building Wednesday after receiving her diploma. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)
Pioneer High School graduate Ser’Rae Foster had a large ensemble of fans, appropriately called her “Grad Squad,” as her aunt’s shirt noted, waiting for her as she walked to receive her diploma Wednesday night.
Foster’s mother, Sylvia Davis, and aunt, Jessica Rinetti were among her biggest cheerleaders, smiling with glee then crying tears of joy as she shook hands with Principal Jason Zona.
“She did it,” Davis said afterward. “All the loss she had – my little girl did it!”
Foster is the first in her family to graduate from high school since 1998. She lives with Rinetti and worked hard these past few years to finish her education through a number of trials and has finished with a scholarship to Western Nevada College to study nursing.
“I pushed myself hard every day,” she said, saying she felt “loved” in the company of everyone encouraging her to finish. “It was stressful at some points, but I made it through.”
Pioneer’s Class of 2021 encompassed 39 seniors, 20 of whom earned scholarships. Six students earned advanced diplomas, and two earned associate of arts degrees. Six graduated early and several earned local scholarships, Zona reported.
About 350 family members attended with 22 staff members assisting, Zona said, estimating it was the largest event since the school was founded in 1998.
Pioneer’s graduation originally had been planned as a drive-through format around the campus streets, but it was brought inside the site’s new Building C with families seated inside its gym. Families and graduates were directed one at a time through the processional to be greeted by Superintendent Richard Stokes, Trustee Stacie Wilke-McCulloch and Pioneer staff members, with graduates broken into groups.
The event was prepared quickly, and Zona credited Carson City School District’s safety operations team as well as his staff for getting the word out swiftly to families and thanked them for their flexibility. While the community center typically accommodates more people comfortably, he said the change allowed families to enter with their graduates, which was a unique experience. It also allowed Pioneer to host a major event on its campus, he said.
“It’s intimate, it’s great,” he said. “It’s just not personal when you’re driving in a car.”
Stokes said afterward the culmination of graduation remains satisfying to see students reach their milestone.
“The outcome was still as marvelous in terms of being able to see our seniors graduate and take that diploma out in the world and make their mark,” he said. “It’s always fun. They get support at home and they support the staff here at school is always a fulfilling activity to attend graduation here. I enjoyed it here.”
Wilke-McCulloch called the event “amazing.”
“It was an amazing day to be able to see these graduates and their families with the year that we’ve had,” she said. “It made quite the evening.”
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