The 13 new graduates of Hayfork High School got an affectionate sendoff from the school and community Friday night as they each strike out on their own path.
The Class of 2019 has had its challenges. Due to the discovery of mold in the buildings, students attended school at Hayfork Elementary at one point before moving into portables on the Hayfork High School campus. In fact, the graduation ceremony Friday was held at the Hayfork Elementary School gymnasium.
But that wasn’t the focus.
Several described their classmates and teachers as family.
Class President Marina Guilfoile welcomed the many community members who attended, and congratulated her classmates on their accomplishment.
Austin Canavesio said through all his years at Hayfork Elementary and Hayfork High, “all I’ve ever seen is support for anyone who needs or asks.”
“Our teachers have become like second parents to us,” said Class Valedictorian Rheanna Adams, describing how the staff pushed them toward goals, and the tight-knit community has always been supportive.
Rather than saying “Goodbye,” Adams said she’d rather say, “Hello to new adventures.”
Salutatorian William Vang got applause and shouts of encouragement when he admitted right off the bat, “When I found out I was salutatorian I dreaded the thought of making this speech.”
But with the help of his parents and siblings, he got to thinking about the class’s time together.
“As the years passed I felt we were more of a family than a class,” he said. “Even though we have different opinions we were able to work together to get things done.”
The keynote speaker was teacher Shannon Barnett, who urged the class, “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”
Barnett, who teaches the Senior Pathways class, shared stories of backpacking in the Trinity Alps Wilderness and snowboarding with the students in addition to work-related activities.
Yes, she said, they lost their school buildings, but “we’re not just buildings.”
“Life is full of challenges and most of you have had to deal with your fair share,” she said.
“This town supports you, this town is proud of you and wants you to succeed,” Barnett said. “Go and take on the world.”
The class history delivered by Blake Lauri and Taylor Wiley shared not only funny stories about each one of their classmates but also revealed a class headed in all sorts of directions, from Shasta College to U.C. Davis and Sacramento State, or straight into the workforce.
Prior to Friday’s graduation ceremony, several of the seniors shared their plans with the Journal.
Taylor Wiley plans to attend Shasta College in the fall and go into speech therapy.
“I love working with kids and I wanted to be able to help people,” said Wiley, who grew up in Hayfork.
Cheemeng Yang plans to get his general education at College of the Redwoods and then transfer to a university to be a computer engineer.
DJ Case is headed to Shasta College to get his heavy equipment operating license. Case said his dad is a heavy equipment mechanic and “growing up around him it just kind of rubbed off on me.”
Rheanna Adams will attend UC Davis to major in animal biology. She plans to get a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Adams said her experience in 4-H and in Future Farmers of America helped push her to do more.