Class of 2017 students graduate from Santa Maria Valley high schools

Class of 2017 students graduate from...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Righetti, Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley high schools all held graduations on Thursday. This year's graduations were staggered so people could see all the graduations in the area.

Righetti High School kicked things off with their graduation at 9:30 a.m. Santa Maria High School followed at 11:30 a.m. and Pioneer Valley High School held their graduation at 1:30 p.m.

"I've attended high school graduations each year for 20 years now, yet I am as excited and emotional for the Class of 2017 as I have been for all those before them," Righetti High School principal Karen Rotondi said. 

Some students told us they're heading off to college - notably Harvard, Stanford, Cal Poly and UC Irvine.

Over 1,900 students graduated between all the area schools - Righetti graduating 464, Santa Maria graduating 520 and Pioneer Valley graduating 581. Delta High School held their graduation yesterday at 2 p.m. 

"I will be attending Harvard University in the fall and I'm unsure of what I'm studying," Zoi Urban said, who's headed to Harvard.

Zoi Urban was one of several standout students at Righetti High School.

"Closing one chapter and opening a new one," Urban said. 

"It's going to be really emotional at the end but it's exciting," Isabella Powell, who's headed to UCSB said. 

"Leaving Righetti High School makes me feel a little sentimental," John Uellaron, who's headed to Mercy College said. 

Up next with this year's staggered graduations was Santa Maria High at 11:30.

Cristal Zacarias had the second highest GPA in her class - a not too shabby 4.5 GPA, earning her Salutatorian honors.

"It's always been my dream to go to Cal Poly and I actually got in for Civil Engineering," Cristal Zacarias said, who's headed to Cal Poly. 

There's something that's been driving her over the past four years.

"My parents are both from Mexico.. yea I think it was pretty much my parents and myself, I really wanted to put myself out there and make a difference," Zacarias said. 

Of the nearly 600 students who graduated Thursday from Pioneer Valley High School, there was one student who really stood out. We're talking about Erik Ruiz - he shared some advice his father once gave him.

"There's only two rules in life, first one is to try your best, it doesn't matter if you fail or succeed, as long as you tried your hardest and gave your maximum effort, the second one is probably the most important and that's to just have fun," Pioneer Valley High School Valedictorian Erik Ruiz said. 

"I am so proud of the accomplishments of the Class of 2017," Pioneer Valley High School principal Shanda Herrera said. "The students have shown so much growth over the past four years and they have been wonderful to work with." 

Principal Herrera noted the graduates who are heading to Berkley, Stanford, UCLA and colleges across California.

"I hope this class remembers their contributions made in the area of athletics, academics and their many community endeavors. They have so much to be proud of." Herrera said. 

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