A full week of commencement celebrations kicked off Tuesday as students donned their caps and gowns at three North County schools.
In total, more than 500 graduates picked up diplomas at Atascadero, Templeton and Del Rio Continuation high schools.
“There are a lot of incredible, eclectic young people in this class,” said Libby Madding, Atascadero High School’s vice principal.
Atascadero High School graduated 291 students Tuesday evening.
The Greyhounds’ valedictorian was Ruo Fan Fang, and the school’s salutatorian was Jillian Sturtevant.
About 80 percent of the school’s seniors will attend college, including Cal Poly and various California State University and University of California schools, Madding said. Some will attend colleges in other states or go into the military, including one female student, while others plan to enroll in trade schools for motorcycles and vehicles.
“There are a lot of incredible young people in this class who were spirited and contributed to the culture of the school in their academic and extracurricular activities,” Madding said. “They’re eclectic and truly a family. They made long-lasting friendships that will last for years after their time here at Atascadero High.”
Templeton High School celebrated the academic careers of 165 graduates at a ceremony Tuesday.
Molly Schaner led the Class of 2016 as valedictorian. Nicholas Yonker was salutatorian.
Templeton Principal Kari Fisher-Gibson called the class “well rounded” and said many students participated in multiple extracurricular activities, including mock trial, drama and FFA.
“For a small school, these kids do a tremendous amount of things,” Fisher-Gibson said.
Del Rio Continuation High School and West Mall Alternative School together marked the graduation of 65 seniors at a ceremony Tuesday in Atascadero.
The schools don’t name valedictorians or salutatorians, but administrators presented awards to deserving students. Del Rio gave the Monarch Award to Tyra Adams, the Acorn Award to Dominic Pinocchio, the Counselor’s Award to Maddie Meacham and the Principal’s Award to Austin Gent.
West Mall presented the Counselor’s Award to Wyatt Key and the Principal’s Award to Molly Lackey.
Ninety percent of the graduates are either enrolled in Cuesta College, employed or plan to join the military, Del Rio Principal Chris Balogh said.
Balogh said each year’s graduation is “incredibly meaningful,” as many students enter the schools not knowing whether they’ll be able walk away with a diploma. “They come from 1,000 different directions and 1,000 different backgrounds.”