Graduation 2017

Rio Rancho Seniors Step Out Into The Future
Posted on 05/26/2017
RRHS graduationMore than 1,050 newly-minted graduates now are the proud holders of a Rio Rancho Public Schools high school diploma.  They join more than 10,000 others who have gone before them and are now pursuing college and successful careers.  Rio Rancho alumni can be found in all walks of life, and several now are teachers themselves in Rio Rancho schools. 

What lies before the Class of 2017?  As the cliché says, the sky's the limit!

RRHS Sal and ValRio Rancho High
"Life is a joke," Valedictorian and National Merit Scholar Molly Klein (at right in the photo) told 507 classmates and a full house at the Santa Ana Star Center.  She went on to explain that some of life's most satisfying moments come from the totally unexpected.  The commencement address, by tradition delivered by a teacher chosen by the graduating seniors, was this year given by a "master of disaster:" Peter Savinelli, who teaches earth and space science and a class on natural disasters.  He noted that success often is born out of failure, citing Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs as individuals who -- as Ms. Klein put it in her speech -- made limeade from lemons.  Other student speakers included Salutatorian Sarah Smith (at left in the photo), Student Body President Andrew Armijo, and Class of 2017 President Aimee Bonneau. 

CHS graduationV. Sue Cleveland High
Cleveland High's student speakers focused on a theme that ran through all four high schools' ceremonies: the importance of kindness and service.  Cleveland student body president Joe Abeyta noted that many of the people who have impacted his life the most are far from millionaires, saying that the importance of what graduates do with their lives will depend less on the number of digits in their paychecks than the number of lives they touch.  Abeyta and his fellow speakers -- Valedictorian Hayley Smith, Salutatorian Sarah Snippen, and senior class president Amanda Eggen -- all thanked parents, family members, friends, and teachers for their support on the road to graduation.  This year's commencement speaker, chosen by the senior class, was anatomy and physiology teacher Shalonda Davis. 

RRCA graduatesRio Rancho Cyber Academy
The intimate Rio Rancho Cyber Academy ceremony at the RRHS Performing Arts Center features one of the graduation season's most emotional ceremonies, the "Stole of Gratitude."  After crossing the stage to accept their diplomas, the 15 graduates went into the audience to present their stoles to a family member, friend, or teacher who has especially impacted their lives.  Valedictorian Stephen Danos, who will pursue a nuclear engineering degree at UNM, celebrated the small-school atmosphere at the Cyber Academy, saying that his classmates were much better able to retain their strong, independent identities than might have been the case at a larger high school.  Other speakers included Salutatorian Breanna Rouse, class president Ashlee Engle, and faculty speaker Patty Wormington.   

Independence High 
IHS graduation"We made it!" is a theme at all graduation ceremonies, but this is especially true at Independence High, where many students overcome extraordinary academic and personal obstacles to earn a diploma.  Lianna Garza, one of the school's six academic honorees, challenged her classmates to be the next generation of leaders for their families and communities. She read a poem which described graduation as "a time for looking forward, a time to set new goals, to dream new dreams, to try your wings and see what lies beyond."  Other academic honorees include Autumn Jones, Janesis Loretto, Jada Mendez-Scott, Selena Rivera and Brianna Vargas-DeAcosta.  The commencement speech at IHS by tradition is delivered by an IHS alumnus.  This year Nicole Henry, who is now working in the legal field, demonstrated that Independence's graduates find success in college and career. 

Dr. Sue ClevelandDr.
Sue Cleveland, superintendent of schools, spoke at all four ceremonies, urging students to cultivate the "marigolds" in their lives.  Marigolds, she said, are plants that nourish and support everything else that grows around them, whereas walnut trees poison other plants growing nearby.  She encouraged graduates to value privacy and civility in their lives, and to become "marigolds" for their family, friends, and future colleagues while banishing the "walnut trees" that might drag them down.