Pioneer Academy valedictorian Ryan Freitas said after being bullied at his former school, he never expected his life to change with new friendships and support by changing campuses.
Pioneer Academy valedictorian Ryan Freitas gives his speech during the school’s graduation ceremony Wednesday. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)
“I desperately needed a new environment,” he said. “When I started going to school here, my life did a 180. I wasn’t expecting to be genuinely welcomed, to form connections with teachers and staff who actually cared about how I was doing, and to be around other students who were more understanding, accepting and down to earth.” Pioneer Academy’s Class of 2022 celebrated 28 graduates in the Carson City Community Center Bob Boldrick Theater on Wednesday. Rebecca Allen, one of the school’s English teachers, provided a message for the graduates, encouraging them to “make their mark” as they keep learning and discovering beyond high school.
Pioneer Academy senior Emilee Johnson receives her diploma from Principal Jason Zona as Carson City School District Superintendent Richard Stokes congratulates her. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)
“Take this blank canvas that awaits you and make it yours,” she said. “You each have talents to share with this world; don’t hold back. The world needs you, and you are ready.” Counselor Cary Jordan presented the scholarship winners, and student recognitions also were presented for the JumpStart program, Career and Technical Education, Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates (J4NG) and military graduates. Gabe Allen, salutatorian and earned the College and Career Readiness diploma and Millennium scholarship, will be attending Western Nevada College in the fall and transfer to the University of Nevada, Reno.
Pioneer Academy salutatorian Gabe Allen, Millennium Scholarship recipient, speaks Wednesday during the school’s graduation ceremony. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)
Allen said his class has been associated with challenges but persevered despite the pandemic’s difficulties. Many of the strengths his peers developed in overcoming, he added, could be attributed to science and nature. “Like the trees, the winds in our lives have served a purpose: to make us strong – strong enough to face all that awaits us in life,” Allen said. “All the tumult of the past few years has only made us stronger, and the very proof of that is that we are here today, on the brink of a new phase of life.” Monica Ward, an administrative assistant, said watching the students overcome a pandemic and working online has been a challenge. “I just want to say how proud I am of all of our graduates, of what they’ve come through and gone through over these past few years,” she said. “It just makes me very proud of each and every one of them to adjust. … They’re tough!”
Pioneer Academy graduates receive their diplomas during Wednesday’s ceremony. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)