Pioneer High students graduate, ‘overcome adversity’ |

Pioneer High students graduate, ‘overcome adversity’

Dave Frank

Pioneer High School graduated 30 students Monday who school officials said had shown courage and worked hard to finish school.

It was the school’s 10th graduation. Pioneer is a public school that emphasizes small class size and curriculum customized to students’ needs. It accepts students by application.

Many of the graduates had to struggle to graduate, Carson City School District Superintendent Richard Stokes told the audience at the Carson City Community Center.

“My hat’s off tonight to our graduates because they have overcome adversity, they have stuck to their academic dreams, they have worked hard and accomplished much,” he said.

Stokes also thanked the parents who helped students finish school and face their challenges.

Ignacio Cervantes, 19, said in an interview he was happy got to go to Pioneer. His daughter’s birth about a year ago inspired him to focus on school and join activities he wouldn’t have had at another school.

“It’s been a long ways,” he said. “It’s been a long ways, man. A troublemaker to something great. I think I like the outcome.”

At Pioneer, he helped with canned food drives, went to an outdoor camp and became prom king. Cervantes said he doesn’t know what he’ll do after school, but he’s ready.

“I’ll see what life gives me,” he said.

Amanda Watson, another Pioneer graduate, said she’s nervous about what she’ll do after school. Growing up and paying bills seems “scary,” she said.

But Watson said she’s a caring and sensitive person and knows she is going to go to college to become a nurse.

“It’s what I’m supposed to do,” she said.

Juan Arellano, 18, said he wouldn’t be making plans to go to college if he hadn’t gone to Pioneer.

“It was tough,” he said. “I had to go through a lot of things to graduate. I almost didn’t graduate. They gave me a lot of chances.”

Small class sizes and patient teachers helped him understand his school work and finish, he said.

All the graduates have showed how responsible and mature they are, Principal Jason Zona told the audience at graduation. He said Pioneer is only the beginning of the students education.

“Class of 2009, we ask that you use the knowledge you have gained from your years at Pioneer High School and the Carson City School District as you journey to your careers and further education,” Zona said. “Combine that knowledge with the value and guidance you have received from your families.”