Whitney sends off first set of four-year grads

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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More than 300 young men and women of Whitney High School took their first steps as alumni. Not only are they now able to call themselves graduates, they are also known as the first graduating class to complete all four years at the school.
The Class of 2009, with 301 students, recently walked along the 20-yard line of Whitney’s football field, passed the parents and each took turns receiving their diplomas at last Thursday’s commencement ceremony.
With the ceremony starting a few minutes early for fear of inclement weather, Associated Student Body President Conor Carr showed that neither the weather nor the rival school, could stop the class from enjoying the moment.
“It’s obvious, we’re not phased by a little thunder,” Carr said.
Carr called the evening a “historic moment for Whitney.”
As freshman four years ago, the class stepped onto the campus not knowing what to expect. But the students quickly took the task to make WHS what it is today, Carr said.
Among the class’ accomplishments include being dubbed a California Distinguished High School, reaching the section championships in football and girls soccer and raising funds for the children of Uganda, Africa.
Jason Knowles, a social science teacher at Whitney High, said the class’ accomplishments “shows the class ability to shine.”
Knowles gave one piece of advice for the graduates – take risks.
“The big night has arrived,” Hawkins said. “The march of our four-year graduates.”
Blow horns, camera flashes and cheers filled the audience full of proud parents and supportive friends. A blown-up beach ball bounced throughout the sea of maroon caps and gowns as graduates gave out high-fives and thumbs up to fellow classmates.
“Tonight we celebrate graduates of Whitney’s first true Wildcats,” Carr told graduates. “Young men and women ready to take on the world. Whitney High School would not be what it is today without the Class of 2009.”
More than $1 million was offered to Whitney students for scholarships and approximately $1 million was accepted. The graduating class completed 17,000 hours of community service total and the average student GPA surpassed a 3.0, Hawkins said.
As the students “step out into a world filled with unknown and new challenges,” Hawkins said their drive will be missed.
The inspirational message, given by Serina Gonzalez, was a message of youth and growing older.
“Don’t grow up too fast, it will all come in time,” Gonzalez told her fellow graduates.
One by one, the students took the stage in acceptance and recognition of their four-year career as high school students, about to jump into a life of uncertainty and new beginnings.
Whitney High School Class of 2009 valedictorians Nikki Barrington, James Conor Carr, Sue Choi, Elena Frink, Jordan Little, Alexandra Prior and Tegan Schmidt will be inducted into the WHS Academic Hall of Fame. Students Jordan Little, Alexandra Prior and Tegan Schmidt were recognized for earning straight As all four years.
The Placer Herald’s Lauren Weber can be reached at

For more photos: Whitney High celebrates first four-year grads