Mission Prep graduates ‘class of rock stars,’ principal says

Mission Prep's Class of 2016 graduation

Mission Prep's Class of 2016 graduated in a ceremony held Friday, June 3, 2016, in San Luis Obispo.
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Mission Prep's Class of 2016 graduated in a ceremony held Friday, June 3, 2016, in San Luis Obispo.

Called a “class of rock stars, literally and figuratively” by Principal J.D. Childs, Mission Prep’s largest group of graduates ever celebrated their commencement Friday night in San Luis Obispo.

“They are good to each other, considerate of our school, hard-working, smart, giving and talented,” Childs said of the 96 students.

The school’s valedictorian was Thea Smith, a gifted pianist who also studies violin, guitar and drums. Smith will be attending the University of Chicago this fall.

Mission Prep’s co-salutatorians were Shane Elder and Katie Chapman-Pinto. Elder will attend UC San Diego, and Chapman-Pinto will attend University of San Francisco.

96 number of graduates of Mission Prep this year, the highest ever

Ninety-eight percent of the class will attend college, including universities such as UC Berkeley, UCLA, Brown University and Boston College. Five will attend Cal Poly, and 15 will enroll at Cuesta College. More than one-third will attend private and public colleges and universities in 20 different states across the nation.

Childs’ “rock star” comment in part referred to graduating senior Matthew Nino, who received the school’s Serra Award given to the outstanding senior male in recognition of achievements in academics, co-curriculars and spirituality.

“Yes, he is a musician who plays rock music, but moreso a person who makes others better,” Childs said. “... He is smart, savvy, accomplished and embracing to all persons.”

The corresponding honor for a female student, the Marian Award, went to Noelle Laird, whom he called “kind, thoughtful and inclusive.”

“Noelle is a born leader with a natural charisma who welcomes all individuals to be included in every activity and situation,” Childs said.