Paso Robles High School students turn tassels at graduation ceremony

More than 400 graduates packed into Paso Robles High School’s War Memorial Stadium on Friday as the Class of 2014 marked the end of one phase and the beginning of the next.

About 430 graduates earned their diplomas, helping the school notch a graduation rate above 90 percent, according to Ashley Lightfoot, public information officer for the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District.

“We’ve come up significantly over the years,” he said. “And that’s in the face of tougher standards.”

This year’s class was led academically by valedictorian Ethan Serpa, who finished with a 4.5 GPA. Salutatorian Brandon Racca finished with a 4.49 GPA, while Jessica Bartlett finished third in the class with a 4.42 GPA.

Thirteen students finished with valedictorian status, Lightfoot said, meaning they were in the running for valedictorian.

Both Serpa and Racca plan to pursue mechanical engineering degrees — Serpa at Cal Poly and Racca at Stanford University.

More than 75 percent of the graduates are bound for college, advanced trade schools or military service. Twenty-two of the graduates have been accepted to Cal Poly in the disciplines of science, engineering, business and the arts.

Most other college-bound seniors plan to remain in California. A few plan to go elsewhere, including Arizona State, the University of New Mexico, the University of Alabama and Richmond American International University in London.

This year’s graduates earned more than $235,000 in scholarships, Lightfoot said.

Once again, the graduation ceremony was streamed live over the Internet for those who could not attend the ceremony.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune