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Gridley Herald

Live, Learn, Bulldogs!

Jun 14, 2024 10:27AM ● By Seti Long, photos by Seti Long

Senior Zoey Williams performs the National Anthem for her graduating class.

GRIDLEY, CA (MPG) - Gridley High School Class of 2024 embarked on a new journey under a setting sun as 155 students gathered one last time for commencement.

On Friday, June 7, Gridley High School students and staff spoke of the challenges and triumphs of the Class of 2024. Graduates shared their experiences balancing academic and personal priorities, while others highlighted their academic and athletic achievements. Overall, there was an emphasize on the importance of resilience, determination and enjoying the journey.

Nataly Banuelos Nico Donati

 Natly Banuelos, left, and Nico Donati welcome the crowd to the Gridley High School Class of 2024 graduation ceremonies.

Seniors Nico Donati and Nataly Banuelos welcomed the crowd, with Donati saying, “We truly appreciate your time and commitment in supporting us through every day, week, semester and year of our time here for the high school.” He continued, “We all look forward to the many adventures ahead of us, and as our future unfolds, we will always look back at our time here with pride and joy.”

Banuelos provided a welcome in Spanish, before turning it over to high honors students Addalyn McClellan and Hope Gallager for the Pledge of Allegiance. Graduating senior Zoey Williams then stunned attendees with her rendition of the National Anthem.

high honors

 Graduating high honors students look to their futures with smiles.

high honors

 More graduating high honors students look to their futures with smiles.

Alex Speers Gridley Unified School District Board

 Gridley High School grad Alex Speers, left, received her diploma from Gridley Unified School District Board President Eric Waterbury.

Gridley High School Principal Rikki-Lee Burresch took the podium to speak about the Class of 2024: “It’s an honor to stand before you as your proud principal and reflect on the incredible journey we have shared. To the graduates: your achievements over the past four years have been nothing short of exceptional. You've set new records with your test scores. You've demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence that has made all of us proud. Your accomplishments and athletics have been exceptional. Showcasing not only your talent but also your teamwork, determination and sportsmanship, your dedication to your cunning and wily senior pranks are sure to be remembered.”

She introduced teacher Don McCabe, fan favorite and requested speaker by the Class of 2024. McCabe provided an entertaining and comical talk, encouraging the graduates to enjoy life and the newfound experiences waiting for them.

The crowd then had the privilege of hearing from Salutatorian Nicole Velasco, who carried a 4.32 GPA. She recalled the trials that her class faced, including the Oroville Dam crisis, Camp Fire and COVID-19.

Gridley High School Salutatorian Nicole Velasco

 Gridley High School Salutatorian Nicole Velasco speaks to the crowd.

“I am proud to be part of this graduating class because we were able to triumph, despite all of the obstacles that presented themselves through our years in elementary, middle and high school.” said Velasco.

She thanked the crowd and Gridley High School staff, saying “we owe you a debt of gratitude for all that you have helped us achieve.”

Gridley High School Class of 2024 Valedictorian Anna-Gloria Luevano spoke to the crowd next. Luevano carried a 4.36 GPA as well as having the distinction of being a champion athlete.

Valedictorian AnnaGloria Luevano

 Valedictorian AnnaGloria Luevano speaks to the crowd.

Luevano spoke of the importance of balancing hard work while remembering to be mindful and have fun.

“What I took away from just this year is that it's important to slow down and be present, instead of always worrying about the future,” Luevano said.

She encouraged her classmates to take chances and follow their dreams.

“I'm standing here to tell you to go for it. Go do that thing, instead of wishing you did,” said Luevano.

Staff members then recognized high achievers, outstanding athletes, CTE pathway students and more.

Gridley High School graduation

 During Gridley High School graduation, students with the highest GPA's, including the Valedictorian, Salutatorian, High honors and honors students are seated towards the front of the class in the first rows as way to recognize their dedication and hard work throughout their high school years.

As Burresch mentioned earlier, it would not be graduation for the Class of 2024 without one last prank. Burresch was to shake the hands of each student before they received their diploma.

As the first student to cross the graduation stage, Luevano handed Burresch a large glass mason jar. As each student made their way to shake their principal’s hand, they handed her a key.

“I hope you cherish the memories you made here at Gridley High School. Cherish the friendships you've made and continue to strive for excellence in all that you do,” said Burresch to the Class of 2024.

Burresch continued, “You have proven to be all-around wonderful people. You are kind, compassionate and resilient as you step into the next chapter of your lives. I encourage you to carry with you your class quote, ‘live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’”

The mystery of the keys was solved later after each graduate had received their diplomas and most had left with their families. That’s when Principal Burresch and her husband found a boot on their car, with one of the keys in the jar the one to unlock it. Burresch quickly enlisted the help of the school resource officer, who was in on the prank and held the correct key in her possession. It all ended in good fun and lasting memories.