Arroyo Grande High School’s Class of 2019 has 11 valedictorians — you read that right

Class of 2019: Watch as 468 seniors graduate from Arroyo Grande High School

Arroyo Grande graduated 468 seniors during its commencement ceremonies on Thursday, June, 6, 2019.
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Arroyo Grande graduated 468 seniors during its commencement ceremonies on Thursday, June, 6, 2019.

Arroyo Grande needed lots room at the podium this year — the school had 11 valedictorians to honor at its graduation ceremony on Thursday.

The South County high school’s Class of 2019 featured close to a dozen valedictorians, all with GPAs of 4.5.

According to a Lucia Mar Unified School District spokeswoman Amy Jacobs, school officials believe this is the largest group of valedictorians in the school’s history, though that has not been confirmed.

The honor is usually awarded to the student with the highest GPA across their entire high school career. Because of the large number of valedictorians this year, the school did not name a salutatorian.

Including its valedictorians, the school celebrated 468 graduating seniors, a class that was awarded a total of $235,000 in scholarships, logged roughly 10,000 hours of community service among them and includes 11 signed collegiate athletes, according to Jacobs.

“This class of students is truly unique and we are so pleased that they get to experience a one of a kind graduation,” Principal Dan Neff said Thursday before the ceremony. “We are eager to see the great things they do out in the world.”

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Jason Castro accepts his diploma during the Arroyo Grande High School graduation ceremony on Thursday. Laura Dickinson

Of the graduates, 85 are going to four-year public California universities like UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, UC Berkeley and Chico State University. Of those, the largest number, 31, are going to Cal Poly. One student is headed to Yale, and another is going to MIT.

Fifty-three of the seniors will continue their educations at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, and 172 will attend Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo.

Eleven students are expected to join the military, six plan to enter trade schools, eight say they will travel and 13 say they plan to enter the workforce.

The ceremony was held for the first time in recent memory not in the Doug Hitchen Stadium, but instead on a nearby sports field, due to delayed construction at the football stadium.

During the ceremony, the high school also honored Harou Hayashi — a 93-year-old noted local farmer who was sent to an internment camp as a sophomore. Because of his incarceration, Hayashi was unable to graduate from Arroyo Grande High School — but that changed this year.

On Thursday, the school decided to honor Hayashi, alongside his grandson, Kobe Hayashi, who was graduating from the high school.

Lopez High School

Lopez High School in Nipomo celebrated their graduating seniors Wednesday, June 5. Cassandra Garibay

Arroyo Grande wasn’t the first South County high school to hold a graduation ceremony this week.

Lopez High School celebrated its 77 graduates in an evening ceremony on Wednesday, including valedictorian Catalina McCullough and salutatorian Kristina Bishop.

According to Aurora Munoz, the school registrar, 50 of the graduating seniors will be going on to community colleges, three into the military and one to a four-year trade school.

“Lopez students have GRIT,” she said. “They are goal-oriented, have respect for themselves and others, independence to govern and direct themselves and teamwork — they act together as a unit in the interest of a cause.”

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Lopez High School class of 2019 graduated June 5. Monica Vaughan

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