Education

Coast Union High graduates 39 seniors, and a handful are headed to Cal Poly

Watch Coast Union High School Class of 2019 graduate

Atascadero High School graduated 38 students from the Class of 2019 at a commencement ceremony Thursday, June 6, 2019, in San Luis Obispo County, California.
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Atascadero High School graduated 38 students from the Class of 2019 at a commencement ceremony Thursday, June 6, 2019, in San Luis Obispo County, California.

In a whirl of red and gold, Coast Unified High School sent another class into the world Thursday afternoon in front of a full house at the school’s gymnasium.

The class’ 39 graduating seniors entered the gymnasium through a rainbow arch of balloons, strode down the center aisle and took to the risers in their final actions as CUHS students.

Some presentations included meaningful acronym words, with Hayley Zinn’s welcome speech ending with her interpretation of the word “farewell” being things to seek in their adulthood: Freedom, adventure, resilience, empathy, wonder, effort, love and live.

Other speakers sought to define the class, with Salutatorian Luis Plascencia noting in a speech laced with inside jokes that “we were Broncos like no others,” and that “senioritis was at an all-time low” in the class of 2019. Co-valedictorian Karis Lawson summed it up, saying that, when describing her class, “one word encompasses it all: Special.”

The graduation ceremony itself was extra special for two staffers, as Superintendent Scott Smith handed a diploma to his son Luke Smith, and CUHS Principal Scott Ferguson did the same with his daughter Kaylee Ferguson. Community members donated nearly $140,000 in scholarship funds for the grads.

Coast counselor Mary Stenbeck said co-valedictorians Lawson and Victoria Ehlers soon will head for Cal Poly and Lawrence University, respectively. Lawson will major in landscape engineering, and Ehlers will major in pre-law with a minor in music.

Plascencia also will attend Cal Poly in the fall; he plans to study computer science, Stenbeck said. Three other Coast grads are going to Cal Poly: Jack Azevedo and Jasmine Torres, who are majoring in agricultural science, and Zinn, who will major in math with an emphasis on becoming a teacher.

Vanessa Ramirez will become a U.S. Marine. She had other opportunities, Stenbeck said, “but she told me ‘this is my opportunity to serve the country, and I’m excited about that.’”

Darien Jewel, Julian Mercado and Magnus Marthaler will attend Woodbury College to continue their studies of digital arts and filmmaking. Other Coast grads will attend a variety of colleges and universities, including Cuesta College.

Stenbeck said quite a few Coast students were accepted by more than one college. Athletes of the year, announced last month, were Plasencia and Ailyn Casas. Lawson, Jewel, Torres, Azevedo, Plascencia and Zinn were declared “seniors who made a difference.”

Exchange student Ore Okubadejo was also part of the graduation and plans to return to Lagos, Nigeria.

Leffingwell High School graduates 6

This year’s grads at Leffingwell included Zachary Dolan, Alexa Macias, Luis Ramos, Maria Ramos, Faith Romero and Jazlin Rixman, who was the recipient of a special award given in honor of former Leffingwell educator and leader Grant Phillips (he retired last year after nearly a quarter century at Leffingwell).

School registrar/secretary Joey Davis said that, despite “a lot of hurdles, especially health issues,” the intelligent, hard-working Leffingwell seniors had persevered, accomplished a lot and grown a lot.

“It’s to the point of tears how proud of them I am,” Davis said right before the Wednesday afternoon graduation. “And they get it, how huge their accomplishments are.”

“It’s a privilege to be here, and it gives me chills” to see how effective the Leffingwell curriculum is for the students, she said, “giving them the tools they need to succeed.”

“We work as a team,” Davis said of the students, staff, district and especially with the support of the community through scholarships to Leffingwell grads.

With six students in the graduating class, this year’s scholarship total was $10,350.

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