58 students graduate from Pioneer Academy

Pioneer Academy presents its Class of 2024 in the Carson City Community Center on May 29, 2024.

Pioneer Academy presents its Class of 2024 in the Carson City Community Center on May 29, 2024.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.

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Extreme stress and anxiety weighed down Pioneer Academy student Sadie Fullerton for most of her high school experience even before she transferred to the school. But the smaller school’s welcoming environment, staff and student body eased some of the pressures she faced.

As a confident graduate Wednesday, she offered an address from the stage of the Carson City Community Center, sharing how she’s overcome much of her apprehension thanks to the support of staff and friends.

“The longer I stayed at Pioneer, the more drawn in I felt to the community,” she said. “Everyone here was so unapologetically themselves in such a fun way. I was more interested in clubs and activities. … I’m going to learn how to shine brighter than a thousand stars.”

Members of Pioneer Academy’s Class of 2024 will be remembered for their resilience and determination overcoming COVID-19, school educators said during Wednesday’s commencement ceremony. The class of 58 graduates is one of the school’s largest.

Mason Dey, salutatorian, who plans to attend Western Nevada College, received an advanced diploma and Millennium scholarship. Dey, who transferred to Pioneer from Sierra Lutheran High School, told the Nevada Appeal he was glad to cross the stage.

“It’s nice to connect with teachers in an environment at Pioneer that’s so small,” he said. “It’s hard to fall in the background because everyone’s already in the background together. … It was the best decision I ever made.”

He said eventually he hopes to become a math teacher and emphasized how proud he was of his classmates.

“Despite how different we all are, I think we’re all one little family in a weird way, mostly because the best part of it is we’re very real people my age,” Dey said. “That’s a big thing about why I came to Pioneer. We’re people who aren’t afraid to talk about how we feel. We’re willing to do the hard work. It makes me proud of this class.”

Pioneer’s valedictorian was Dulce Perez Montero, not in attendance Wednesday, who earned the Millennium Scholarship and a biliteracy diploma. She was a JumpStart student, taking classes at Western Nevada College. She plans to finish her associate of science degree from WNC then transfer to UNR to earn a degree in accounting.

Principal Jason Zona, welcoming graduates, loved ones, district leadership and staff, shared his pride for seeing the graduates rise in excellence as examples to their peers.

“You have demonstrated that perseverance and commitment are rewarded, and your future is filled with boundless opportunities,” Zona said.

He acknowledged students who were inducted into the school’s National Honor Society, completed dual college and high school credit courses, participated in the Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates program and other programs such as speech and debate. He also congratulated military recruits for their dedication to serve and others who already have been their career paths.

“Your future is bright, and I am confident that you will change the world for the better,” he said.

English teacher Rebecca Allen inspired graduates to consider how to define success going out into the world, reciting poet Maya Angelou’s description of the world as “liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.” Every individual finishing out of Pioneer and the Carson City School District has been prepared for their own journey that will benefit this world and is cause for celebration, she said.

“I encourage you to take some time at this milestone to reflect on what truly brings you joy, satisfaction and meaning,” Allen said.


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