CRUHSD Academy grads told to follow their dreams
BULLHEAD CITY — Members of the CRUHSD Academy Class of 2019 have made the choice to do what it took to finish high school, Principal Troy Heaton said Friday night.
Now, they face a series of choices that will determine how the rest of their lives go.
“I’ve always tried to get them to make the right choice and to actualize the choices they have made,” Heaton said of the now-graduates. “I’ve been hard on them and I’ve been soft on them at times.”
Now, he said, the Class of 2019 members will have to rely on themselves to focus on accountability and responsibility.
“At this point on your journey, you have the choice, the power and the ability to make your life what you want it to be,” Heaton said.
He said the graduates might take inspiration from Nelson Mandela, the South African civil rights activist who went from being imprisoned by his own government to being president.
“During that time, he chose not to hate, he chose not to blame and he chose not to feel sorry for himself,” Heaton said.
“He chose to definitely not give up his dream of a free and democratic South Africa.”
After apartheid ended, Heaton said, Mandela had another choice to make.
“Even when members of his own political party were beating the drums of war, he stood firm and made clear who he was and what he stood for.”
Senior class President Sarahi Ortega-Ibarra urged her classmates to keep striving for their goals.
“I’m proud of you guys,” she said. “I’m happy to see us right here right now graduating together. Don’t let anybody bring you down.”
Student speaker Michael Mastrobuono said he met new friends at the academy and that class members did well at being there for one another through good times and bad.
Staff members, Mastrobuono said, “inspired us, pushed us, and always had our best interests at heart. We couldn’t have done it without these amazing teachers.”
Guest speaker Nancy Mongeau spoke of her own experience getting into and paying for college, and the nursing and other careers it led to. She
also told the class of Tri-state area youths who have gone on to buy and save the hospital in Needles, become a professor at Harvard and been elected mayor of Flagstaff.
She said the world frequently changes, and that the graduates are in position to use that to their advantage.
“If you look at change as an opportunity and not as a danger, you’ll be fine,” Mongeau said. “So go out and show the world what young people from rural Arizona can do.”
Graduate Angelica Calaunan said after the ceremony that she was tired — she’d been up since 5:30 a.m., unable to sleep in anticipation of the moment. Her mother, Stella, said she’s proud of her daughter’s work to get past bumps on the road to graduation.
Logan Wooten received a scholarship from the Needles Rodeo Association, and will attend Universal Technical Institute in Avondale to prepare for a career in auto mechanics.
He said the self-paced curriculum proved helpful, and that academy staff “helped me realize my goals and dreams.”