Umatilla Celebrates its 2013 Graduating Class

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UHS Graduation
Sixty-one Umatilla High School seniors graduated Saturday.
PHOTOS BY JENNIFER COLTON

They may have “scared” teachers during the past few years, but Saturday, the Umatilla High School Class of 2013 became graduates.

In their years at UHS, the 61 students earned 556 college credits, just under 12 ½ years of college – worth about $49,000, according to school counselor Rick Cotterell – and were awarded $134,000 in scholarships. Three students – Chelsea Fudge, Lane Clark and Brandon Hinkley – will join the military.

Through all their accomplishments, “hardworking” was the theme for the class at the 91st Umatilla High School Commencement, and students, teachers and administrators described the class as one able to overcome odds.

“This class, they’ve been anything but conventional,” Principal Scott Depew said. “You’ve earned it. I’m proud of you, and each of you should be proud of yourselves.”

PHOTO GALLERY: UHS CLASS OF 2013

In addition to an increased credit requirement, the class of 2013 had to pass state skill assessments in reading and writing in order to graduate. Each also completed a senior project and passed Umatilla High’s proficiency-based grading model, which went into effect the year the graduates were sophomores.

John Malgesini, a 28-year teacher at UHS, served as guest speaker. Malgesini used his time to speak about each and every student.

He spoke of the 100 hours of volunteer work Julio Martinez put into his senior project; Judy Garcilazo’s positive smile; ; and how Martin Rubio always upbeat, even first thing in the morning.

“Some people couldn’t even open their eyes, and he was cracking jokes,” Malgesini said of Rubio.

Malgesini also spoke about Osbaldo Mejia’s impact on his class and the accomplishments of Dulce Aguilar Sanchez, a student-parent who loves her kids but worked hard to graduate.

“She is probably the person I am most proud of in this class,” Malgesini said. “I am so pleased that she is here today.”

UHS Norma Chavez
Salutatorian Norma Chavez gives her address Saturday.
While staff and parents applauded the hard work of the class of 2013, the students themselves looked to both the past and future.

“It feels really good (to graduate),” Rafael Bajonero Nieto said. “I’ll miss a lot: sports, track – that’s my favorite – my teachers, my friends. I’m going to miss all the people in this school.”

Nieto graduated with three college credits but said he will be unable to attend college. For now, he plans to work and will see where life takes him.

“My life is going to change. This is my last day in Umatilla,” he said. “When I first started, I said I wanted to be out of here. Now, I don’t want to leave.”

Ashley Longoria said she plans to attend Columbia Basin College to pursue criminal justice. She would like to work toward a master’s degree to become a probation officer and “help kids out”

“I’m excited, nervous and sad,” she said.

Anali Rubio agreed.

“It all happened so fast,” she said. “Too many memories.”

Valedictorian Susan Routson will also work toward an education degree.

“It’s not real yet,” she said. “I don’t think it will until we get a job or go to college.”

Routson will work during the summer and attend BYU in the fall. She plans to go into elementary education. Fellow Valedictorian Sara Stonecypher will attend the University of Oregon and plans to pursue a business degree.

“I’d really love to own my own business, but we’ll see how that goes,” she said. “Right now, I want to enjoy college.” Stonecypher said she’ll miss her friends and classmates.

“(The school) is really small, so you know everyone. Some of these people I’ve known all my life. I’m going to miss them,” she said. Stonecypher’s address during the ceremony echoed that theme.

“It is hard to believe just a few years ago we were freshmen visiting these halls for the first time,” she said. “I was so intimidated – everyone was so tall. Now here we are. It goes by too fast.”