County seniors graduate with big dreams


Susan Meeker & Brian Pearson |


Members of the Williams High School Class of 2018 received their diplomas on June 1 ready to take the next big step toward their futures.

Almost all of the 79 graduating seniors plan to enter college in the fall, with just a few going off to the military or workforce.

This year’s seniors took advantage of Woodland Community College for early college credits, advance placement coursework, and good old-fashioned hard work to make them ready for life in the 21st century.

“Whoever said senior year was easy, lied,” said graduating senior Julia Alcaraz.

During commencement exercises on McCarl Field on June 1, Williams Superintendent Edgar Lampkin and Principal Nicholas Richter each praised the graduating class, noting that the students finishing 12 years of school in 2018 represent both a first and a last in their accomplishments.

“What makes this class – the Class of 2018 – unique is that they are one of our first group of millennials to take the most AP and Dual Enrollment classes at Williams Jr./Sr. High School and Woodland Community Colleges…so much so that they will be the last class at Williams Jr./Sr. High as we know it. Next year, we will be looking at becoming one of the first comprehensive early college high schools in California – and that is thanks to the Class of 2018.”

Valedictorian Anna Michelle Rios, who will enter the University of California, Berkeley, thanked God, her educators, counselors, her family, and especially her mother and father for getting her to where she is today, and getting her into the college of her choice.

“Thank you for teaching me the meaning of sacrifice and the power of believing in my dreams,” Rios said to her parents during her valedictory address. “This diploma is yours and much as it is mine.”

Rios said that while the Class of 2018 will now take separate paths with no clear line to get from point A to point B, she believes change is the foundation of a human being.

“After we walk across the stage and begin a new era of our lives, we will have the option to conform to what we know or to pursue the unknown. Our decision will define who we become and what we wish to accomplish.”

About two dozen scholarships were given out at last Friday’s ceremony. Rios earned scholarships from Omega Nu, CSU Talent Search, Avalos Foundation, Knights of Columbus, and Pearson Realty, memory of Simon Robles. She also earned the new Chamber of Commerce scholarship given in memory of the late Colusa Mayor, Kirk Kelleher, and the new James and Joyce Tuttle Award.

Two other new scholarships were introduced this year: the Brian Shellnut Art Scholarship, awarded by Williams High School to Ethan Orozco and Vanessa Rodriguez; and the Brian Shellnut Memorial Scholarship, awarded by the late teacher’s family, to Lizbeth Murillo.

The Ruben “Boy” Lopez scholarship was awarded to Dominic Perez, who plans to study criminal justice.

Other scholarships recipients included Juan Hureta, Anthony Bautista, Nubia Camacho, Hector Salazar, and Nayeli Velazquez.

Salutatorian Bryson Bowen earned scholarships from Williams Taco Bell and Colusa Rotary. Bowen plans to attend California State University.


A total of 68 seniors walked across the stage and received their High School Diploma on during commencement ceremonies at Colusa High School on Friday night.

“For educators, there’s nothing more satisfying than watching students progress, grow, and achieve,” Colusa Unified Superintendent Dwayne Newman told Colusa High School’s Graduating Class of 2018. “Graduates, you’ve made us proud over these last four years.

On behalf of myself, the board, and the entire staff of Colusa Unified School District, I offer you congratulations. We wish for you a life of health, happiness, and continued success.”
As Colusa co-valedictorian Estafania Orozco put it, the ceremony marked the close of one chapter, and the beginning of another in the graduates’ young lives.

“Maryann Williamson once said, ‘Life is like a book that never ends; chapters close, but not the book itself.’ Here we all are, ready to receive our diploma and start the next chapters of our lives… It is crazy to think that our story together began four years ago,” Orozco said.

Orozco added that graduating high school marked a big milestone in each of the graduates storybooks, authored with help from family and friends, and added that there were many chapters yet to be written.

In closing her speech, Orozco encouraged her classmates to forge their own paths in life.

“…Sometimes going away from what everybody else is doing is how you truly find your passion,” Orozco said. “I do hope that you will find it, and continue adding to your story – the story of your life, and how your book will end.”

Ben Davies, co-valedictorian, thanked the community, the teachers, the administration, and the parents of the graduating class for their support throughout the graduates’ time at Colusa Unified School District.

Davies drew laughs from the crowd when he singled out his own parents for a special ‘thank you.’

“I especially want to thank my mom and dad. They’ve put up with a lot of dumb things I’ve done in high school, like when my friends and I had the bright idea to take political signs from people’s lawns, and put them in Johnson Park. One of those signs was ‘Joe Garofalo for Sheriff,’” Davies said of the Colusa County Sheriff, who is the father of his graduating classmate, Josie Garofalo. “I’ve been terrified of Joe Garofalo ever since, and Joe, if you’re out there, I’m sorry.”

During the ceremony, students wore different colored stoles to recognize their completion of different pathways at Colusa High School, including participation in various school clubs, programs, and organizations. A total of 28 members of Colusa 2018 graduating class, including Orozco and Davies, were wearing black and white stoles, which indicated that they had completed all ‘a-g’ requirements, making them immediately eligible for admission into University of California and California State University Schools.

Dan Griffith and Anne Davies, representing the Colusa County Scholarship foundation, gave out a total of 37 scholarships to Colusa High School seniors during the ceremony, and Athletic Director Eric Lay recognized Sidney Lay and Will Kalisuch as the Class of 2018 Outstanding Female and Male Athletes.

See the June 13 edition for the Pierce and Maxwell Graduation recap.