Granite Hills High School graduates

A group of Granite Hills High School graduates stand in recognition of their achievements during four years as high school students during their graduation ceremony, Friday, May 31, at Jacob Rankin Stadium.

GHHS celebrate the 2019 graduating class of over 250 seniors

It was all happy tears and massive smiles at the Granite Hills High School (GHHS) graduation ceremony Friday night where over 250 seniors walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

As the GHHS band played out “Pomp and Circumstance” the graduates made their way down the football field and to their individual seats for the beginning of the night's milestone ceremony.

Cadets with the Porterville Military Academy’s Cadet Corps presented the colors while the GHHS Senior Choir sang the National Anthem.

As the music faded out, Hanna MacDonald, the Associated Student Body president, took to the microphone to welcome the overflowing crowd to the Class of 2019's graduation.

“Good evening family, friends, GH staff, PUSD staff and members of the PUSD School Board,” said MacDonald. “Welcome to the ceremony, on behalf of the Class of 2019, we would like to thank everyone who supported us along the way, and thank you for joining us this evening in celebration. Special thanks to our families and our teachers, as your love and support lifted us during the last four years of high school. We walked in with pride, and leave with tears of joy. We made it Class of 2019!”

As a loud round of applause erupted throughout Jacob Rankin Stadium, MacDonald found her seat among her fellow classmates. GHHS principal Apolinar Marroquin stole the audience's attention when he took his spot behind the podium.

“Good evening veterans, parents, PUSD Board of Trustees, Superintendent, staff and Grizzly community,” said Marroquin. “Before I proceed with the special recognitions, I would like to thank the very important people who attend this evening. You are here to help share in the commencement celebration; a celebration to not only recognize the last thirteen years of hard work by students, but also the unwavering partnership between home and school.”

Marroquin asked that the parents of all the graduates stand to be recognized, and they were met with a round of applause and a thank you for the continuous unconditional love and support.

“This message is for the proud Grizzly seniors,” said Marroquin. “Thank you for following the Granite traditions of excellence by being a person of character. Tonight is about celebrating your accomplishments, the support around you and moving forward to your next challenge with confidence.”

Marroquin recognized around 80 students for the excellence in Digital Design and Communications and Law, Justice and Ethics. He also recognized students who had perfect attendance, hold the State Seal of Bi-literacy, have the Golden State Seal Merit Diplomas and those who are CSF Life Members. Marroquin then passed the attention over to the 2019 class valedictorians Mackinzie Thomason and Ricardo Munoz.

“On August 17, 2015, we walked onto the campus of Granite Hills High School as freshmen,” said Munoz. “It was that same day that we began talking about this day: Graduation Day... I not only speak for myself when I say that GH has become my second home. This year has taught me to take pride in where I was raised, to embrace the mess that life is and to enjoy every second of every day because time moves faster when you want it to go slower... 1,383 days ago we walked onto the GHHS campus and began a new story in our book of life: the story of high school. My story matters but so do all of yours. Thank you Class of 2019, for letting me be a part of your story.”

Munoz gave the floor to Thomason who presented her own valedictorian speech to her class and the anxious audience in the stands.

“I am so happy and honored to see all of your faces here tonight,” said Thomason. “I hope you are all as proud of us as I am. High school here has been one heck of a journey, and so much has come out of it. I wish I could compact it all into a few words or phrases for you, but I really can't. We are all in some ways wiser. Nothing in life is set in stone. Everything is constantly changing, but nothing ever changes so much that we won't be able to handle it. However big or small the problem is, we can get through it. We've got to be doing something right because we are here. Embrace the changes life throws at you, and don't let it stop you from being the amazing people that you are. Thank you and congratulation to the Class of 2019.”

Once the valedictorians took their seats again, Veronica Buckman, the 2019 GHHS Senior Class President, was invited to give her farewell speech.

“These past four years have involved some of the most memorable and influential moments of our lives. Individually, our experiences were unique, but together we share a common bond as scholars of the Class of 2019,” said Buckman. “GHHS has been a foundation piece of not only who we are today, but who we will be tomorrow... In closing, to all the wonderful families here today, to all the siblings and friends, and to all my classmates, I am extremely proud of each and every single on of you. I know that we will make a difference in the world and lives around us. Congratulations to the Class of 2019, and never forget once a Grizzly, always a Grizzly, and don't forget to always have a great Grizzly day.”

The GHHS band took center stage in a performance of “The Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Graduating seniors rushed over to join their band for one final performance.

After the applause for the captivating performance died down, it was time to present the graduates with their diplomas. PUSD Governing Board members Pete Lara Jr. and Tom Velasquez took their positions to shake every seniors hand, before they were handed the diplomas they worked four years to receive.

The night was finalized with the turning of the burgundy and white tassels that dangled from the tops of each graduation cap.

The night's celebrations continued as families and friends rushed to the field to give warm hugs, proud kisses and to snap a few photos with their newly graduated high school senior.

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