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Second chances at Independence

Wasco Independence High School graduation ceremony honored their Class of 2022 with moving speeches and messages of inspiration. Many students struggled academically and personally, but they overcame those challenges to earn their high school diplomas.

"Today was a huge success for the students because they realized all their hard work was worth it," said teacher Michael Rowland.

"I am incredibly excited for these kids and a little emotional. I am going to miss them. They accomplished a great deal in the face of adversity. It was special to see how proud all of their friends and families were to see them graduate," said teacher Kayla Castillo.

It was historic for WIHS.

"We had 125 graduates from both our continuation and adult education programs. We've never had that many students graduate," said counselor Vianney Gonzalez.

"Even with all of the hardships our students had to face, they were able to complete their diploma requirements. It proves how tight-knit our staff is to ensure that every student gets a second chance to succeed."

Students put in the extra effort to graduate.

"I worked really hard because I was behind in credits, but I could catch up because of WIHS. I feel like they saved me with an opportunity to graduate on time," said Joseph Gamboa.

"I feel wonderful and so happy I was able to come all this way with my baby. I wasn't in school for the last three years, and though I graduated a year late, I still made it," said Kimberly Salazar.

"It's amazing. I feel a big weight lifted off my shoulders. It was difficult to complete 120 credits in just one school year, but I put my heart into it to make it happen. I am excited to see where my future goes from here," said Ava Calhoun.

Some students did not think they would make it, but family and friends were there to support them.

"I pushed them when they wanted to give up. They've been through a lot with both of their parents on drugs, but I stepped in to raise them. It is awesome, and I couldn't be more proud," said Danita Jones of her granddaughter and grandson.

"I overcame not believing in myself to taking a big step in life by graduating. Thanks to the support of my loved ones and also from WIHS, I now believe anything is possible," said Stephanie Fuentes.

The staff was acknowledged for helping the students realize their goals.

"It is a great day for all of our staff because they put in countless hours to get these students to this point," said Principal Rusvel Prado. "They showed their dedication and love every day to motivate all the students to get here."

The graduates are ready for their next steps.

"It makes me ecstatic to see that they made it, and WIHS has prepared them for the next chapter in their lives. We have instilled values such as respect, not only for others, but for themselves," said Gonzalez.

"Whatever they choose to do with their lives, they'll know that it will be a good path for them if they respect themselves."


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