Thursday, June 7, the Citrus Valley High School Class of 2018 graduated as what Principal Rhonda Bruce characterized as an extraordinary and historic class pivotal in the young school’s quick rise to becoming one of the best in the state. The students who attended Citrus Valley four of the school’s nine years celebrated their final moments as seniors during the graduation ceremony at the historic Redlands Bowl.

Following musical performances from the school’s jazz ensemble, choir and a solo by Lindsay Ray, the seniors marched through bleachers packed with friends, family and teachers. John Lama, Saman Haddad, Ethan Bell, Esther Esho, Ashley Samaan and Rebekah Barker who were selected by the faculty to carry the banners representing the school’s C.L.A.S.S. cornerstone values of character, leadership, attitude, scholarship and service led them.

In her speech to the class, Bruce praised the class of 514 for reaching great academic and athletic successes while meeting numerous changes and challenges.

“You were born at the end of last century to come roaring into the new century, new millennium. You’re the first class to be taught Common Core for all four years of high school. You moved from paper and pencil to laptops,” Bruce said. “Whatever challenges we put to you you continued to face them with a can do attitude.”

According to Bruce, 29 percent of the seniors graduated with a 3.5 GPA or above, 72 students graduated with a 4.0 GPA or above and 415 students took at least one Advanced Placement test.

The senior class helped Citrus Valley achieve a 97 percent graduation rate and a silver medal awarded by U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s best high schools. The magazine ranked Citrus Valley 389th in California and 1,986th in the nation.

Fallon Judy encouraged her classmates to be “the Blackhawks we were born to be,” during her graduation speech, an honor won through an application process.

“Live out your dreams, live them out fast enough to make new ones and live those out too so that one day when we see each other down the road we will have some fantastic stories to share,” she said.

Judy also mentioned the new Common Core standard likening it to “a slap in the face” to the laughter of her classmates.

When charged with accepting the Class of 2018, Redlands Unified School District Board of Education President Jim O’Neill invited fellow board members Cristina Puraci, Patty Holohan and Alex Vara, who each had family members in the class, to join him.

Once each of the names was read and as the dusk darkened the new graduates were celebrated with fireworks shot from the top of the bowl inscribed “Without vision, a people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

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