High school seniors graduate

Photos and story by Catherine Stachowiak

Kern Valley High School class of 2024 graduated in a very traditional ceremony, Thursday May 30, at the football stadium.  

Music teacher Frederick Townsend led the Kern Valley High School chorus, with singing the national anthem and the school’s alma mater.

Kern High School District Assistant Superintendent Leo Holland told the audience and students, “Graduations are a special celebration of accomplishment and success that is empowering for the graduate and uplifting for family friends and the community. Here set amongst this landscape, the most beautiful in our district, I congratulate you Kern Valley High School class of 2024.” 

School principal Alan Paradise thanked those who organized the event. He also thanked Eric Hansen assistant principal, Randi Chappell dean of students, Jacob Halliwill plant supervisor, and Adam Muller electronics technician for making the event possible.

Paradise said, “The class of 2024 is represented here today by Senior Class president Audrey Martinez with senior speakers Kalayna Olson and Walker Edwin (Ed) Bunting.”

Audrey Martinez said, “They didn’t lie to us. High School did go by fast, too fast. I remember when we were in 8th grade and our Magic Mountain trip was canceled because of COVID. And now we are seniors that just went to our grad bash at Universal Studios last week.” 

She said, “Class of 2024, let us be the generation that leads with empathy.”

Kalayna Olson said, “Class mates we have had an eventful four years of high school.  But they have been filled with some road blocks as well.”  She recalled how her class made the best of things despite their first year social distancing because of COVID.  

She said, “We have all worked so incredibly hard to get to where we are today. We didn’t get to have a normal eighth grade graduation. But look at us now. We are about to walk across this stage in front of our biggest supporters who have been there for us when we needed them the most.  As we grab our diplomas we take our first step into a new journey of adulthood.”  

 Ed Bunting said, “There’s something poetic about endings, particularly those that usher in new beginnings. It makes you question, is it even an ending at all, or rather a transition?”  

He said, “Make room. These broncs are on their way.”

Staff members were present at the ceremony, representing all the districts, South Fork Union School District, Kernville Union School District, Caliente Union School District as well as Kern Valley High School.  Paradise thanked those staff members for their efforts on behalf of the graduating students.  Paradise thanked senior counselor Albert Landry for his assistance guiding students toward their goals.  

“Since bouncing back from distance learning, we’ve been impressed by their tremendous spirit and wonderful accomplishments.”  Paradise said, “These students have won academic and athletic competitions. Tonight we will graduate Team MBPs, CSF Lifetime Scholars, Honor Students, FFA Show and Fair Champions and most importantly well-rounded people. This group of graduates includes three time undefeated High Desert League champions in both boys and girls track and field. CIF High Desert League outstanding male student athlete and California Scholarship Federation Seymour Award finalist in Kyle Espinoza Denys.”

The graduating class also included Kern High School District Peak Award nominees Hunter Watts, Jack Montgomery, Kyle Espinoza Denys and Kayley Sietsma.

The graduating class included as well the Kern Valley Exchange Club Students of the Year Mikaela Richey and Kyle Espinoza Denys.  Paradise said, “Accepting the challenge of excellence the Ace Winner from the Exchange Club is Jonas Bordner.”

Paradise thanked the Booster club for supporting the school’s athletes and the FFA boosters for supporting FFA students.

Paradise also gave Kyle Expinoza Denys special recognition with the Principal’s award for outstanding student of the year. As ASB president Kyle earned an outstanding student award. He earned a 4.254 GPA, including honors placement Physics, Economics and English courses, and advance placement Calculus and Spanish classes, all while playing football, basketball, and participating in track.

The principal acknowledged five seniors for their academic excellence. They were CSF sash students who exercised academic excellence.  Fourteen students were Principals Medallion recipients who earned at least a 3.5 GPA in college prep, honors, and advance placement.  

Paradise honored Erin Woodward for more than 30 years of service to students and over a decade at Kern Valley High School. 

Paradise also honored the American Legion Riders of Kern Valley, represented by Mike Woodward.  Paradise said that the organization supported Boy Scouts and various boys and girls camps within the community and brain injury awareness. 

Receiving the principal’s award for outstanding staff member was Jackie Steinberg.  

Paradise recognized graduating student Mitra Kiosef during the ceremony because she’s joining the Air Force in September and focusing on Materials Management during her service.