School year 2020-21 taught Carson High School valedictorian Jonah Dodd how to overcome, and he said it best in his graduation speech.
“High school taught us academic information … but high school also taught us how to be winners,” Dodd said. “Carson High has also been challenging but each and every one of us that want to go that stage today is a winner.”
Dodd reflected on what it had been like to see his student body divided into cohorts through the hybrid model this year as a result of COVID-19 and still come out successful. He reminded them of a simple but honest truth.
“We control our futures,” he said.
The Carson High School Color Guard precedes the Class of 2021 graduates for the processional. Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal
On Saturday, Carson High School held its commencement on the football field filled with family and friends eager to come together to celebrate the hard work their children or relatives had accomplished. The school certified 479 Carson High School graduates, including Adult Education and one posthumous candidate, and various students recognized for their academic accomplishments by the wearing of their cords or stoles.
JumpStart valedictorian Morgan Golden valedictorian and senior class president Emma Hataway also presented before the presentation of diplomas by the Carson City School Board on Saturday.
Graduate Jake Crossman said he felt “free,” or would be so for at least a week and a half before starting a summer term at Brigham Young University, and said his time in high school has prepared him well for college.
The year, he said, while challenging, did eventually fall into place.
“I felt separated from classmates and our teachers, too, with diminished classtime,” he said. “After Christmas break is when we started to hit our stride with the whole format. … But this year helped me to develop a sense of motivation.”
Jake Crossman said his track season, though reduced and despite not feeling like a “high-end” athlete, is one of his favorite accomplishments of the year, having taken third place in track regionals this spring.
Carson High School graduates walk in during the processional at the start of the ceremony. Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal
Trustee Laurel Crossman, Crossman’s mother, said she was proud of him for persevering through the school shutdown last year.
“He was self-motivated, he still worked on his (Advanced Placement) classes, he got all A’s and was very upset that it was a pass/fail system, and he’s a good kid, a really good kid, I’m so lucky,” she said. “And I love his friends. I’m going to miss the kids I’ve watched in cross-country and track. I think all those kids, they know how to work hard and know to keep going when it gets tough … and it’s been a difficult year.”
School board member Don Carine said it was wonderful to carry on the tradition in a full stadium with the families.
“I feel it’s a great thing that we were able to have a live event this year,” Carine said. “I think it’s wonderful for the parents, and I think it’s great for coming back to some sort of reality for the next school year.”
Benny Newmeyer said just before the processional that he was proud of his son Ben Newmeyer for getting through the year.
“With not being at school and having to do stuff online, it was a little bit of a struggle, but he did it and he made it through,” Benny Newmeyer said. “He got it.”
He said his son was looking to get into auto body once he finished and that he was happy to see his son take part in a live graduation after initially thinking it might be another drive-through similar to last year’s ceremony. His daughter Sydney graduated from Carson High four years ago, he said.
“It’s perseverance and determination,” he said. “He’s a good student. He was definitely on it. They made it really easy with COVID to get on a computer and do it, but he pushed on and did what he had to do.”
Carine, whose own son is a junior, originally voted against the hybrid model earlier in the school year but was relieved after a year of change to see everything work out for the best, he said.
Nicki Hendee, lead counselor, added it was a positive experience to open up the doors to have more family members come since originally it had been limited to four tickets per students at first.
Valedictorian Jonah Dodd greets a classmate before going up to the platform to give his address. Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal
“It was really exciting just to have a normal graduation,” she said. “There were a lot of people that wanted to celebrate these graduations.”
Carson High School leadership adviser Ann Britt afterward called graduation “a good day,” reflecting on the year since August.
“Everyone’s glad that we had a normal day this year” she said. “Lots of smiles today. I’m so proud of these guys. They pulled it off. … Night and day! I feel the students have really come a long way, a lot of personal growth. They figured out how to do it and they got it done.”
Principal Bob Chambers expressed his gratitude to his staff and community for making Saturday’s in-person event special. He acknowledged his custodial staff, nurses and teachers for their daily contributions while potentially being exposed to COVID-19 and constantly getting tested for it all this time, he said.
"The kids were spectacular … this is probably the most pride I’ve ever felt in my 22 years as an educator,” he said. “I can’t even comprehend what this means to these kids and this community to have a graduation ceremony, to have normality. These kids have persevered. Nobody would have blamed them for hanging it up, but these kids didn’t.”
Cristian Garcia Perez, Carson High graduate, crosses the stage and celebrates receiving his diploma. Garcia Perez is heading to Dartmouth College this fall. Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal
Chambers mentioned one Adult Education student who was a former student he oversaw as vice principal at Empire Elementary School and dean of students and vice principal at Carson High.
“He’s 21 years old and he wanted to cross the stage today,” Chambers said. “Very, very moment for me to watch him persevere through life and, like, not give up and get all the credits he needs and he walked the stage today, so very super special.”
Superintendent Richard Stokes said the day was a personal highlight for him to see students who one day would “take our places in the future.”
“Graduations are wonderful places to see old friends celebrate with our students and staff and close out in a great way what’s been a tough year,” he said.
Carson High School graduates congratulate their peers Saturday. Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal
Graduate Abby Golik walks the stage Saturday after receiving her diploma. Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal
CHS graduates on Saturday decorated their caps. Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal
Carson City School District Trustee Laurel Crossman celebrates her son, Jake Crossman, who graduated Saturday. Jake will be starting a summer term this month at Brigham Young University. Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal
Carson High graduate Ben Newmeyer shows off his new diploma. Provided by Maureen DiRubio