MHS has largest graduating class of the year

Monache High School concluded a year full of celebration for its 50th anniversary with the presentation of its 48th graduating class Thursday night at Rankin Stadium.

The stadium became a sea of Blue and Gold as 426 graduates — Porterville’s largest graduating class of the year — entered in two lines and took their seats at the center of the football field.

MHS Principal Eric Barba was the master of ceremonies for the evening, and greeted graduates and their fans who packed the grandstands for the occasion. The school’s leader took the opportunity to share some final inspiring words of advice with his graduating class.

“Be fearless. Take everything you have learned in your lives and transform it into something special,” said Barba. “Lessons learned through adversity have only made you stronger. Shy away from the status quo and instead make your own path.”

For the valedictory speech, each of the six valedictorians — Zachary Angle, Danielle Borromeo, Garrett Keller, Margil Nunez, Natalie Tate and Tina Zhen — took a moment at the podium to share their thoughts on their high school experience and what lies ahead.

“Coming into Monache as someone who had never attended a Porterville school, my head was filled with anxiety over all the stories my friends had planted in my head about seniors trash-canning freshmen. I quickly learned that these stories were far from true,” said Keller. “I met some of my best friends at this school and made the greatest memories. Monache truly became my home.” 

“After today, we trade our Friday night lights, embarrassing yearbook photos and favorite teachers for something entirely new,” added Tate. “After today, all of us will move on to new cities, new surroundings and new paths in our lives. High school was a blast, but I think I speak for most of us when I say that change is well overdue.”

Among the graduates were 34 California Scholastic Federation Sealbearers and 11 students who achieved a grade point average of 4.0 or higher, whom Barba recognized by having them stand as he called their names aloud.

After a performance of “A Day of Infamy” by the Monache Marauder Band, student body president Morgan Martinez gave the farewell address, during which she encouraged her classmates to savor one last look back before moving on.

“Let’s not talk about the rest of our lives or where we’re going to be when we’re 25. Let us now just take a moment to see that we survived,” said Martinez. “But more than that, we thrived. We became Marauders. We are Marauders, and we will never ever stop bleeding Gold and Blue.”

PUSD board President Pete Lara Jr. and board member David DePaoli handed each of the 426 graduates their diplomas as their names were called. Once the tassels were turned from right to left and their emancipation from high school was official, the grads dispersed to begin their celebrations.

“I’m excited and happy that it’s all over with,” said Edwin Perez, who ships off to San Diego on July 30 to join the Marine Corps. “I’m a little worried about the future, but I feel like I can handle it.”

Perez will miss playing in the Marauder Band and all of his friends at Monache, and had some parting advice for future graduates.

“It’s easy, even though it seems like a pain. Take all the hard classes,” he said.

Valedictorian Tate also has mixed emotions about clearing the first big hurdle of her adult life.

“I’m nervous, but I’m really excited because I know all of us are going on to do better things,” she said. “College is going to be really fun. I can’t wait.”

Tate will attend University of California, Davis in the fall and major in biology. She feels she has the right preparation and demeanor to meet the challenges that await her.

“I’m a very independent person, so I think it’s going to be very eye-opening, but also very freeing. I think the responsibility will teach me a lot and it will be a time to grow,” she said.

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