Some came to King High School for just a quarter or a semester, arriving short on credits and at risk of not graduating.
Others had been there for a year or more, coping with life challenges beyond their control and often beyond what any teen should endure, but determined to earn their high school diplomas.
Then there were the students who had struggled to master that one required subject — say, algebra — at another school, or struggled to fit school into a life that included a job, a baby or other obligations.
Whatever the reason they came to the continuation high school, it’s not, said teacher Blair Howard, “a short-cut.”
“It’s a path less traveled,” he said. “King High is able to do a lot of different things for a lot of different students.”
And on Wednesday evening, King High graduated 35 of those students in a joyful ceremony before family and friends at the Brunelle Performance Hall.
“These students have worked incredibly hard,” said Principal Kim Wallace. “And I know their joy and victory is shared by all of you.”
Graduate Matias Castro, who delivered the student speech for the evening, called his first year at King High “the best year of my life,” and credited the school for giving students a chance to finish their education while still balancing out the other priorities in their lives.
King High’s small student body allows for close bonds to form between students and teachers, and those bonds were evident during Wednesday’s graduation ceremony as teachers and other King High staff took turns presenting diplomas to their students, and saying a little bit about each of them.
Teacher Theo Buckendorf, for example, provided a glimpse into graduate Rudy Sepulveda, whose poker face, Buckendorf said, belies “a sneaky intelligence.”
Jonathan Galarza, he said, was at King High for only one quarter, but it was all the time he needed to take responsibility for his education and his life. And on the basketball court, Buckendorf said, Galarza “can trash-talk with the best of them … and then back it up.”
Kosey Wentz, he said, has an integrity that’s infectious. And for someone like Wentz who wants to go into law enforcement, “that’s just what any police force needs,” Buckendorf noted.
The typical King High student, said teacher Cathy Haskell, has so many talents you’d never get a chance to see them all at a bigger school. The artistic and talented Michael Ottlinger, she said, was one such student.
Emma Kurtz, she said, “is one of the most independent and self-reliant students I’ve had at King,” while Carmen Lopez “is one of my favorite students this year. Everything she does in life, she will be successful at.”
Teacher Sharon McCorkell called Lyndsey Colston a gifted musician “who plays piano on the sly, without having had lessons,” and said Ignacio Carabez, who played lead guitar in the band as people were trickling in to the ceremony on Wednesday, is “an amazing musician.”
Carabez won the King High School music leadership award this year, she said, and plans to continue studying music in college.
Jarron Weller, who was described as one who “brings procrastination to a high art form,” got everything done just in time to graduate. But that’s because “he goes for mastery, not just trying to get by,” McCorkell said.
Eli Murray-Clark was dubbed “the sage of King High,” Summer Ostroff-Natividad “one of the kindest young women you’ll ever meet” and Jessica Bunting “an example to anyone who thinks graduation is unattainable.”
Many of them also received scholarships on Wednesday night to further pursue their educations.
De’von Pierre received a Davis Waste Removal scholarship, while Madeline Woo received one from the Soroptimist International of Davis.
Rick Gonzales of the Mexican Concilio of Yolo County presented scholarships to Ignacio Carabez, Carmen Lopez and Lucy Meneses, and he also presented the annual Rosie Gonzalez memorial scholarship, named after a former King High student, to Jessica Bunting.
Haskell presented the Hardenbrook/DTA scholarship to Eli Murray-Clark, while the Jack Reinwand Memorial Scholarship, named after King High’s second principal, went to Jennifer Davisson.
King High School scholarships went to Jarron Weller, Matias Castro and Kosey Wentz.
Members of the King High School Class of 2012 are:
Carlos Allen, Dana Bigelow, Lacey Budwiser, Jessica Bunting, Brandon Campbell, Ignacio Carabez, Angel Carrillo, Matias Castro, Lindsay Colston, Jennifer Davisson, Alan Dominguez, Jessica Duree, Francisco Flores, Jonathan Galarza, Hannah Grant, Rhiannon Jordan, Emma Kurtz, Carmen Lopez, Cayla Matthews, Johnny Mullane, Eli Murray-Clark, Angel Ordonez Bernardino, Summer Ostroff-Natividad, Michael Ottlinger, Susanna Perez, De’von Pierre, Rafael Ralston, Lucero Rascon-Meneses, Vanessa Rascon-Meneses, Kyle Saylor, Jacob Schroeder, Rudy Sepulveda, Jarron Weller, Kosey Wentz and Madeline Woo.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy