Graduation 2018

Record Number of Graduates Earn RRPS Diplomas
Posted on 06/04/2018

RRHS valedictorian receives diplomaFor the first time ever, Rio Rancho Public Schools “walked” more than 1,100 successful seniors at its four high school graduation ceremonies.  One by one, 1,129 graduates crossed the stage to pick up the hard-earned piece of paper that certifies they have met RRPS’s rigorous requirements and are ready to head for college, the military, or the world of work.   

As is often the case, some of the most emotional moments at the four ceremonies came when students spoke of the role friends and family members played in their success:

Cyber Academy graduating classRio Rancho Cyber Academy
The Cyber Academy is a small school – 165 students in grades 6-12 -- so it’s not surprising that the members of the senior class form close bonds and that their graduation ceremony is intimate and emotional.  This year was certainly no exception, as the 18 members of the Cyber Academy Class of 2018 said good-bye to high school and to each other.  Both Valedictorian Nathaniel Padilla and Salutatorian Carla Martinez had to wipe away a tear (or three) as they gave their speeches, and there were lots of tears in the audience too. Retiring principal Jacquie Monclova’s final words to the class focused on persevering in the face of adversity. 

Independence High graduate celebrates!Independence High
If there’s a RRPS graduation ceremony that wins the award for sheer "We made it!" exuberance, it’s Independence High School’s, where so many students have overcome extraordinary academic and personal obstacles to earn a diploma.  
Independence does not recognize a valedictorian, but Alexis Martinez, one of the school’s academic honorees, MC’d much of the ceremony, with Devan Latham and Jonathan Robbins doing the tassel-switching honors at the end.  IHS’s graduations always include a segment honoring the school’s faculty, and the commencement speech by tradition is delivered by an IHS alumnus.  This year Samantha Wetzel came back to share her successes with the Class of 2018.  Fifty-eight Independence seniors earned diplomas, and it’s expected another two dozen or more will complete degree requirements over the next six months.  Those graduates will be recognized in smaller ceremonies in July and December. 

Cleveland female graduate with diploma

V. Sue Cleveland High
Cleveland High this year had the biggest graduating class among the district’s high schools, as well as the biggest graduating class in the school’s history.  Some 538 students made the long walk across the stage to the cheers of a capacity crowd – approaching 7,000 – at the Santa Ana Star Center.  Senior speakers Christian Valencia, Trinity Saiz, and Valedictorian Alexander Glick set a lighthearted, celebratory tone, with Valencia even leading the class in a Storm cheer.  The class Salutatorian is Marinella Buckley.  By tradition, the commencement speaker is a member of the faculty chosen by the senior class: this year the honor went to Martin Arnold, who teaches senior English. 

RRHS grad Matuke Fomukong

Rio Rancho High
This year’s Rams graduates – 515 of them – were even treated to a commencement speech delivered partially in rap!  Class president Matuke Fomukong, who along with Valedictorian Kristin Strosnider has been accepted to UNM’s prestigious BA-MD medical program, gave a rousing pep talk that had students cheering as they headed out on the road to success.  Salutatorian Melissa Pinson and student body president Ashley Gabaldon also addressed the near-capacity crowd.  The faculty speaker, by tradition chosen by members of the senior class, was long-time and beloved AP Language Arts teacher Leslie Keeney.