Cheers, shouts and air horns could be heard as “Pomp and Circumstance” played and the Granite Hills High School Class of 2021 walked onto the track Wednesday at Jacob Rankin Stadium at GHHS.

Following the Presentation of Colors by the Porterville Military Academy, and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Monique Navarro Alvarez, Associated Student Body President Steve Escobar offered a welcome and talked about a year filled with challenges and hardships and the perseverance of the class before ending with “Live on, live free and live you.”

The presentation of an array of awards by Granite Hills High School Principal, Apolinar Marroquin, including awards for the school's various Pathway programs, a 13-year perfect attendance award and a four-year perfect attendance award, State Seal of Biliteracy, Golden State Seal Merit Diplomas, CSF Life Members, and the acknowledgement of the school's five valedictorians.

“When we think of 2021, our thoughts may wander into times of a pandemic, school and community closure, and distance learning,” Marroquin said. “But I will look back, remember, and feel proud of how our staff rallied together to serve our community. Of how our district rallied together.”

But the memory that will remain in his heart and soul, he said, will be remembering the empathy, heart and determination the students had in helping themselves while lifting those around them.

“Tonight is about celebrating accomplishments, thanking those around you and moving forward with confidence,” Marroquin said before repeating his talk in Spanish.

The valedictorians — Gisela Marroquin, Sandra Millan Rodriguez, Lissette Nunez Ornelas, Chloe Isabella Ross, and Hidie Breanna Marie Spanke — spoke, thanking their parents, family, teachers and administration, and addressing their fellow classmates.

“This is not how any of us could have imagined our senior year. The past 14 months have been full of changes, hardship and loss,” said Ross before talking about Zoom meetings, feeling disconnected from their school family, experiencing and grieving over the loss of loved ones, and of the loss of the life they used to know and the life they were planning to have.

“Sometimes the lessons in the loss are far greater than those in the win. Use them to help you grow,” Ross said. “This is the beginning of a new chapter. Make the new chapters bold. Make them beautiful. Make them authentically you.”

Rodriguez spoke in Spanish and started by welcoming family and friends and ended with talking about the pandemic and not focusing on the many things the pandemic took away, but rather being grateful on the success accomplished.

“I hope that you all are able to continue fighting to ensure that your hardships don’t stop you and that they especially do not define you,” said Gisela Marroquin towards the end of her speech.

Marroquin then presented the Senior Class, with the Roll Call done by Assistant Principals Evelia Alvarez and Kim Ramirez.

The seniors then picked up a diploma and paused for a photo as the crowd once again clapped, cheered, shouted, and took photographs from the stands.

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