Celebrate Graduation 2014 with our students!

Certified for Graduation: 1,080 Seniors Accept RRPS Diplomas

Rio Rancho schools are known for their high graduation rates, and this year was no exception, as our community's biggest graduating class ever crossed the stages of the Cleveland High Concert Hall and the Santa Ana Star Center to collect their hard-earned sheepskins.  The Class of 2014 has plenty to celebrate, including academic and athletic champinships at both large high schools (visit our Newsroom to read about some of these accomplishments).  And -- celebrate they did!   

V. Sue Cleveland High (Slideshow)
More than 500 proud Cleveland High graduates celebrated the end of their high school careers at the Santa Ana Star Center.  Valedictorian Melanie Schneider, Salutatorian Karla Del Cid-Ledezma, Student Body President Mariah Tafoya, and Senior Class President Andre LiRosi led the Class of 2014 through a ceremony long on humor (Tafoya stopped in mid-speech to take a "selfie," and LiRosi began his remarks with:  "When my mother wrote my speech . . . ").  Commencement speaker Abigail Pestalozzsi-Conley, CHS English, speech, and debate teacher, got lots of laughs acting out the angst felt by many a teenager, followed up with the angst-filled "day in the life of an adult."  But it was all to make a point: Conley and others advised students to savor the moments that matter in their lives. 

Rio Rancho High (Slideshow)
The "selfie" trend continued at Rio Rancho High's commencement, where student body president Cassandra Capone stopped mid-speech to snap her own selfie.  Capone, Senior Class President Jordan Liesse, Valedictorian Nikolas Tchiloyans, and Salutatorian Nicole Klein led a class of 480 across the Star Center stage. Klein noted in her speech, somewhat wistfully, that "unlike a good book, we cannot relive high school.  As at CHS, by tradition the commencement speaker is a faculty member chosen by the senior class; this year, perennial favorite Tom Gutierrez reminded students to recognize what they do well, and "do it a lot!"  Superintendent Sue Cleveland took the opportunity, in this 20th anniversary year for the district, to tell how Rio Rancho High was created out of the desperate desire of the community for its own high school, and how RRHS became the rallying point and unifying force for all of Rio Rancho. 

Independence High (Slideshow)
Independence High graduated 68 students during a spirited ceremony on May 17 at the Cleveland High Concert Hall.  Senior speakers John Singletary, Stephanie Reyes, Jordan Haley, Crystal Sanchez, Justin Beck, and Deric Burt acknowledged the contributions their teachers made to their success and led the students through the traditional tassel-switching and hat-tossing.  One highlight of the Independence ceremony was original poetry presented by graduates Sabrina Manire and Christina Lovelady.  Independence graduates traditionally are congratulated by the entire faculty as they cross the stage; the heartfelt handshakes, hugs and "thank yous" provide some of the most emotional moments of Rio Rancho's graduation season.   
Rio Rancho Cyber Academy  (Slideshow)
The Cyber Academy's graduating class of 28, led by Valedictorian Royce Deller and Salutatorian Wesley Gowen, received their diplomas in ceremonies at the CHS Concert Hall. This year, the Cyber Academy invited one of its own back as the commencement speaker: Jeremiah Henderson was a member of the first Cyber Academy graduating class made up of members who had started at the Cyber Academy as freshmen.  Henderson, who is currently a student teacher at Colinas del Norte Elementary, told students that the road to success is not linear and to persist in pursuing their goals.  Graduates also honored retiring staff members, including Principal Elaine Manicke.  Cyber Academy students take courses online at home, supplemented by classroom sessions with teachers and fellow students at the school's lab facility.