Cheers all around for Pioneer grads |

Cheers all around for Pioneer grads

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Pioneer High School graduate Josh Moore, 18, gives a well deserved cheer after receiving his diploma on Tuesday night at the Carson City Community Center.

Ysabel Ramos tapped her foot anxiously, wanting to know when her mom, sister and infant daughter, Maria – not even age 1 – would show up.

“I’m stressing right now,” the 19-year-old said as she lined up with 31 other Pioneer High School graduates for commencement Tuesday night. “I’m going crazy.”

The most important thing for Ramos, who hopes to become a nursing assistant, was that her family and daughter be there.

“I’m OK; I’m fine,” she said.

Ramos, one of five students to receive special honors at the Carson City Community Center, later received a special tassel to wear on her cap.

Pioneer’s graduates – six more than last year – completed the requisite 22.5 credit hours and passed the state proficiency exams. As they walked in – the females in purple robes and the males in green – the crowd rose, applauding their diligence.

Pioneer High has a negative reputation for being Carson City School District’s alternative-education high school. But the school offers a lot – small enrollment that teeters around 100; credit hours that can be completed at eight a year, as opposed to six at Carson High School; and a college-like entrance requirement: students have to apply to attend.

“I don’t know why people try to give us a bad rap,” said Stephanie Morse, 19, who graduated with honors in social studies and wants to become a masseuse or massage therapist. “The school’s pretty good. It’s a actually the best second-chance high school you get.”

Alecia Timmons, 17, who graduated with highest academic honors, explained students attend Pioneer for all types of reasons – some to catch up on credits, others for a change of scenery, and a few, like her, to graduate ahead of time.

“I’m not supposed to be a senior until next year,” said Timmons, who wants to attend Western Nevada Community College then the University of Nevada, Reno to become either a teacher or nurse. “I’m actually graduating early.”

The largest Mylar balloon in the auditorium, reading “You did it,” was for Rosa Angel, 18, the eldest child of five and the first to graduate from high school.

Her mother, who speaks little English, said through a friend that she would like her daughter to “be a better person than (me) and continue to help others.”

Some graduates waved as they walked in. Cheers like “You go, buddy!” resounded. Ramos, with still no word on her daughter, wiped away a tear.

Ramos received special honors in math, as did José Galvan for science and Madisyn Morrison for English. Galvan, 18, wants to open a car audio shop and attend the Universal Technical Institute in Sacramento. Morrison, 17, plans to attend Western Nevada for two years then transfer to Alaska Pacific University and become a marine biologist.

“I never thought I would graduate,” she said. “I gave up on myself. The teachers (at Pioneer) were inspiring to me. They pushed really hard.”

Troy Weiler received the Charles Keller Scholarship, and Zachary Gochenhouer received the Kenny Prestella Scholarship.

“You have to be able to envision yourself being successful,” Principal Mark Van Voorst told students and the audience. “Persistence is a quality that can never be underestimated.”

It’s something about which Ramos knows much. She moved to Carson about a year ago, and was inspired by her daughter to become a nurse.

She had no need to worry about her family appearing. Out in the hallway, a family of three generations rushed in – a grandmother, a sister and a little girl named Maria.

• Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.