The Lucerne Valley High School class of 2018 graduated 37 on Friday, June 1 with the vast majority of graduates planning on attending college and making a difference. The graduation ceremony was held in Sgt. Brian L. Walker Memorial Gymnasium with large, enthusiastic crowd of family and supporters on hand.
Principal Douglas Ferber presented the class of 2018 and school board member Tom Courtney, with board president Jim Harvey, board member Carmen Fox and Supt. Peter Livingston in attendance, accepted the class.
The top three graduates all will go to college. Diego Orozco, who shared valedictorian honors with William Smith, is headed for the University of California at Davis. Smith is going to U.C. Berkeley to major in mathematics and become a professor. Salutatorian Marlen Cortez, who gave an emotionally inspiring speech, also will attend U.C. Berkeley with her eyes set on an architecture career.
Graduate Cooper Cardinez is planning on joining the U.S. Navy before starting a career as a firefighter.
Over and over the speakers credited support of friends, family and school staff for supporting them in attaining their goals.
“If you hang out with chickens you’re going to cluck,” said Cortez, who thanked the support of parents and family members in Spanish. “If you hang out with eagles you’re going to fly. I’ve been flying with eagles here in Lucerne Valley.”
Smith encouraged fellow graduates to stay true to themselves. “You must unapologetically be yourself,” he said. “It’s all about the heart that’s inside you, so follow it.”
Orozco, who used a Rubik’s Cube as a visual aid, said life’s complexities create challenges that build character. He talked about the challenges of several fellow graduates, including Gabrielson Athlete of the Year Jasmine Cedeno. Cedeno lost a leg below the knee at the age of three but has excelled in the classroom and as a volleyball and softball player. Cedeno is planning on attending VVC and majoring in nursing, by the way.
The student speakers weren’t the only ones with words of inspiration. George Deisler, who is retiring as a teacher at Lucerne Valley Elementary School after 25 years, said support from parents, grandparents and school staff at all levels helps students to grow.
“Remember to thank the people who help you up,” Deisler said. He added, “Everyone here is smart in something. Just be yourself and do what you’re called to do. You do you.”
Popular FFA adviser Troy Van Bavel, the second non-student guest speaker of the event, urged graduates to make careful choices, as they will add up. “Your associations will define your destiny.” At the end of his speech he told the graduating class to reach under their seats where he had taped blank keys to represent a new beginning and for graduates to create their own futures.
Principal Douglas Ferber, who came to Lucerne Valley Middle High School two years ago, said the graduates should be ready to transcend life’s ups and downs.
“You each have a blank canvas in front of you,” Ferber said. “What you do is up to you. Never let a failure cause you to quit after all to quote a Rolling Stones song, ‘You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you find you get what you need.’ Tomorrow a new chapter begins. May it be a best seller.”
While the LVHS Class of 2018 may be small, future graduating classes are likely to grow. Last month, school district Superintendent Peter Livingston shared recent enrollment statistics that showed a continued increase over the last year and a half. Enrollment on May 1 was 765 students for the school district, a 14% increase over the ending enrollment in 2015-16.
Test scores also are improving in the Lucerne Valley Unified School District. The 2017 English Language Arts met/exceed numbers increased by 2.5% over the previous year, and the math scores went up 2%. In fact, Lucerne Valley’s met/exceeded increases represented the biggest percentage gains of all 11 area public school districts except Victor Valley Union High School District, which saw increases of 3% and 2%, respectively. Reading data from the 2017-18 school year ago indicates improvements.
The Lucerne Valley USD also may be one of the only school districts in the state to have a transparency school board bylaw in place. Passed unanimously by the LVUSD school board in June of 2017, Board Bylaw 9009 ensures transparency in all district matters, from complying with the Ralph M. Brown Act, to clearly spelling out standard business and governmental practices. The transparency bylaw was spearheaded by school board President Jim Harvey, who was inspired by “Sunshine Ordinances” passed in recent years by municipalities around the state.
Lucerne Valley Middle High School also is expanding its AVID program, which is preparing and raising expectations of students, an increasing number of whom are expected to go to college. Other programs, including the extremely popular FFA program, are being expanded to meet student needs.
Lucerne Valley’s summer school session, which expects an enrollment of about 40 students, will begin on June 5 and run through June 28 for grades nine through 12.
The 37 Lucerne Valley High School graduates for 2018: Celestino Arroyo Baez, Yicel Buenrostro, Cooper Cardinez, Freddy Castelan, Jasmine Cedeno, Alejandra Cortes Candelas, Marlen Cortez, Juan Cuevas Lopez, Leo Cummings, Breanna Escalante, Jody Evans, Sydnee Fox, Antonio Garcia, Destinee Haley, Emily Hodder, Garrett Hoskin, Alexander Lair, Zhining “Neil” Mao, Jenna McDonald, Joanne Melendrez Avelar, Dylan Miller, Joseph Modica, Megan Nakahiro, Diego Orozco Candelas, Ignacio Perez, Josue Portillo, Charity Sailiata, Joseph Salbino, Ruben Silva, Ryan Simonek, Sarah Smith, William Smith, Ashley Soto, Luke Vanderhayden, Conor Weis, Kimberlee Welsh, and Sania Wilding.