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Walnut valley Unified School District

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Class of 2012 Begins a New Chapter

NEWS                                                                                        Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 880 S. Lemon Avenue
June 1, 2012                                                                             Walnut, CA 91789

Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
(909) 595-1261 ext. 31204

Class of 2012 Begins a New Chapter

WALNUT, CA—Over 1,500 high school seniors in the Walnut Valley Unified School District took part in commencement ceremonies held May 31.

The 2012 graduates along with their families and friends gathered to celebrate the milestone accomplishment during ceremonies held at Diamond Bar High School, Ron Hockwalt Academies, and Walnut High School.

Graduates will head off to colleges and universities across the country including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, and Boston University. Over 440 will attend UC’s and 223 will head to Cal State Universities.

Diamond Bar High’s 29th commencement ceremony with 761 graduates was held in Holmes Memorial Stadium. This year’s theme was “Per Ardua Ad Alta – Through Hard Work, Great Heights are Achieved.”

The 2012 DBHS Valedictorians are Nathan Chan, Anderson Chen, Michael Cheng, Shannon Fan, Laura Gad, Vincent Hsu, Andrew Jann, Richard Koh, Drew Liu, Willie Lo, Deborah Lu, Cindy Mo, Laura Mo, Ian Pan, Yasmine Shahbaz, Nadia Shakfeh, Joseph Tang, Kathleen Torres, and Kevin Zhang.
Nathan Chan, Shannon Fan, Vincent Hsu, and Kathleen Torres delivered the Commencement Address.

Graduate Shannon Fan will attend Harvard University and said she has many wonderful memories of DBHS.

“I would have to say favorite one was at the very last rally. The unity and spirit that the seniors held radiated throughout the gym and I could not be more proud to be an officer of the class.

“It is surreal and maybe I will accept that I am graduating when I am walking in my cap and gown!” she said before the ceremony. Her current plan is to follow a pre-medicine path.

Twenty-one graduates proudly turned their tassels during an afternoon commencement ceremony held at Ron Hockwalt Academies that included the presentation of numerous scholarships.  

“The most important characteristic you have shown is your resilience,” said Principal Jose Annicchiarico.

“When you have been confronted with a wall between you and your goals, you had the strength and determination to little by little chip it away until it became dust. You have arrived,” he said. “Every day is a new beginning, don’t ever forget that!”

A personal message from each graduate and the RHA staff was read as they took the stage to receive their diploma.

“It’s a pretty big day for me!” said Dimitri Lopez who delivered the RHA farewell speech. He appreciated being able to catch up on credits, meet great new classmates, and the great RHA staff with some of the best teachers he’s ever had.

“At RHA we like to have a lot of fun, yet stay on track. We’ve had numerous events including barbecues, pizza parties, and more – and all for free! Graduation is the end of high school and the beginning of life. To the Class of 2012, I wish you the best and know you will all be successful in your new journey,” he said.  

Dimitri will now begin his dream of becoming a fireman. He will pursue an Associate of Science Degree at Mt. San Antonio College and then transfer to a four-year college.

After the ceremony, each graduate presented a special family member, friend, or staff member a long stem rose as a thank you for their support. Grade Level Coordinator Sue McCracken presented a rose to the entire graduating class and wished them well as they continue their journey.

“You students have deeply touched a place in my heart,” she said.

Ron Hockwalt Academies is also turning a chapter as C.J. Morris Elementary moves onto the campus during their school’s modernization for the 2012-13 school year.

“No matter where Ron Hockwalt goes in the future, it will always be in our heart, “ said student speaker Domonique Sahagun.

Walnut High School’s 43rd commencement ceremony with 734 graduates in blue and white cap and gowns. The sold out event themed “Building Our Legacy – If we cannot find a road to success, we will make one” was held in the Ken Gunn Stadium.

The 2012 WHS Valedictorians are Waverly Chao, Tricia Fu, Rami Kakish, Michael Malki, Grace Myung, Rushabh Shah, Jessica Sheu, Brittany Tsou, Wesley Wu, and Stephany Yong.

“You can confidently say that you have had a positive experience that will shape a personal pathway of your choosing,” said Principal Jeff Jordan

During the last four years the graduates have developed skills to communicate clearly, solve problems, and utilize technology as they enter the next stage of their academic life,” he said.

Class of 2012 member Chesley Ekelem’s next chapter will include attending Harvard University as a pre-medical Biology major. She feels excited to be moving on to the next stage of her life, yet sad to be parting from classmates and caring teachers.

“I am confident that Walnut has provided me with a strong foundation that will support me throughout life. I will always remain thankful to WHS,” she said.

Fellow graduate Stephany Yong will attend Stanford University in the fall and recalled that her favorite WHS memory was the collective support and sense of family among students and teachers in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

“We would be silly and sing in English and Math but also have the most riveting debates in Theory of Knowledge. That beautiful contrast of brilliance and acting like a kid made learning so much fun,” she said. 

The 60 IB Diploma candidates in the 2012 Class represent one of the largest Diploma Candidates in the state.

“Look around and truly cherish these final moments as members of the Class of 2012,” said student speaker Katherine Chung.

“We’re sitting in a class of future leaders, innovators, and creators. And however our original goals might change or be improved upon, wherever we end up, we’re meant to be there,” said student speaker Christine Liu.  

She concluded with a quote from a beloved Dr. Seuss classic Oh the Places You’ll Go!

“Congratulations, today is your day. You’re off to great places. You’re off and away. So Class of 2012 - Let’s Go!”


Diamond Bar High graduates celebrate after receiving their diplomas. Photo courtesy of Spencer Pendergrass.

Brahma grads with flag waving Lex Love happily entered the Walt Holmes Memorial Stadium on May 31. Photo courtesy of Spencer Pendergrass

Dimitri Lopez delivers the farewell address during the Ron Hockwalt Academies commencement. 

Ron Hockwalt Academies graduate Domonique Sahagun receives her diploma from Superintendent Dr. Dean Conklin. 

White doves were released during the 43rd Walnut High School commencement ceremony held May 31. 

Wearing blue and white cap and gowns, Walnut High’s 734 graduates streamed into the Ken Gunn Stadium.  

Walnut’s Class of 2012 applauds during the commencement ceremony. 

Grade Level Coordinator Scott Cassells presents valedictorian award to Stephany Yong.