With “Pomp and Circumstance” playing, Adam Quincy Shields appeared cool and collective as he walked forward after hearing his name announced to collect his diploma and shake hands with the Porterville Adult School Director on Thursday during PAS’ graduation drive-up ceremony for the Class of 2021.
Instructors were on hand with bells and whistles, cheering on the graduates as they stepped out of their vehicles. The students were greeted by instructors and shook hands with Tom Velasquez, Porterville Unified School District School Board Member, before being presented with their diploma by Andrew Woodley, director of PAS.
“It feels good,” Shields said about getting his diploma. “I should have gotten it some time ago but I have it now.”
His mother smiled, wiped at tears, hugged her son, and talked about his story.
“I am so proud of him. He’s a graduate now,” Sherry Shields said as she wiped at more tears. “It was a hardship. His dad needed him daily. (Adam) took a solid year off to take his father daily to the dialysis center. He took time off from school to take care of his father. But then he got back in school and we are good to go. Hallelujah.”
His father died in September, his mother said.
“But I know his dad is watching,” she said. “This is a very special day.”
And indeed it was. The sentiment could be heard again and again from loved ones as they watched their students graduate.
Family and friends of the graduates took photos with their graduates after they were presented with a diploma before getting back in their respective vehicles and driving away. And as they did, another vehicle was ready with another graduate.
When Neil Peyron II walked forward for his diploma, he had a lot of family members there to cheer him on.
Peyron II was presented with a tribal ceremonial blanket after receiving his diploma.
“It is a gift from the tribal council and the education department honoring the student in accomplishing their graduation,” said Tribal Council Member Joyce Carothers.
Peyron II said he tried not to think about the ceremony prior to it. He worked from midnight to 8 a.m., but around 4 or 5 a.m. started getting butterflies about the graduation.
“It feels really good. It’s a good feeling. I love wearing all this,” he said motioning to his ceremonial blanket and decorative graduation lei. “My family is all here and I feel really good.”
His father, Neil Peyron, vice chairman of the Tule River Council, said he too is a graduate of Porterville Adult School.
“I am very proud of my son. I knew he could do it if he put his mind to it,” Peyron said. “He’s been working and providing for his family and going to school. His whole family is here supporting him — his wife, his mom, his uncle.”
In all, 126 graduates from the Class of 2021 earned their diplomas.
“Seeing the culmination of all their hard work and the support of family — I don’t think we could be prouder,” said Woodley. “We have 126 success stories. These are all students who decided to come back to school and take control of their future and make it happen, even through the uniqueness of this COVID situation. I think it’s a huge success.”