Two by two, the San Luis Obispo High School Class of 2012 walked into the football stadium through the jaws of an inflated tiger.
Cheering family and friends formed a corridor for the 317 graduates guiding them to their seats, yellow roses in their hands. Of the graduates, 140 have enrolled at four-year universities or colleges, including Duke, San Diego State and UC Davis. Among the class’s top 10 students, only one received a “B” in all four years of high school.
Kate Lehmkuhl, 18, said she’d advise incoming freshman to diversify their schedules and take advantage of all the different departments and courses offered. She hopes to become a nurse but took a variety of courses, such as woodshop and automotive classes.
Jose Barajas, 18, said he struggled at first but did the work needed to graduate. He plans to attend Cuesta College to study criminal justice before attending the police academy.
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On Friday afternoon the seniors, a sea of black caps and gowns on Holt Field, sat attentively as valedictorian Seamus Land encouraged them all to explore their futures inquisitively and without fear.
“Be a nomad, ramble and wander, walk about,” Land said.
Principal Leslie O’Connor introduced retiring staff members who represented a combined 200 years of service. Both students and onlookers gave a standing ovation to counselor Jim Vegher, who retired after 47 years as a coach, teacher and counselor.
O’Connor gave a few words of advice to the graduating class which included, “Be yourself — everyone else is already taken.”
Vegher called the names of the graduates one by one to the stage to give them their diplomas.
Pacific Beach High
Thirty students graduated from the San Luis Obispo school Thursday and are headed to jobs, college and, in one case, film school in Los Angeles.
The students received more than $17,000 in scholarship money.
The graduates and staff also honored retiring Principal Greg Halfman, who worked in the San Luis Coastal School District for more than two decades and was the former director of the district’s adult school.
Grizzly Youth Academy
On Friday, 169 cadets graduated from the academy, including 45 students who also received high school diplomas. Twenty-one students received scholarships totaling about $18,000.
Many of the graduates will go on to college, some will return to high school to get their diplomas, and others will go straight into the workforce. Four of the cadets will enter AmeriCorps, and 12 plan to enter the military in the next six months.
The academy is a charter school operated by the California National Guard at Camp San Luis Obispo for at-risk youth.
Coastal Christian School
Nine students received their diplomas Friday. Two of the graduates will attend four-year colleges — Trinity Western University in Canada and Cal Poly — and five plan to attend community college.