Bear River High School celebrated Friday night as family and friends cheered on more than 160 graduates, packing the school’s J. David Ramsey Field.
“It really brings joy to my heart to see the kids come across the stage to get their diplomas,” Principal Jim Nieto said. “Bear River has a really great tradition with graduation where we’ll have graduates come back just to kind of come take a look. It’s a real family atmosphere. It’s a celebration for our school and our community here in the south county.”
Bear River is one of six high schools in the Nevada Joint Union High School District and is smaller than its district counterpart, Nevada Union.
As one of 20 valedictorians in the 2014 class, Shane Greene said that Bear River students have had the opportunity to build a close-knit class and community throughout the past four years,
“At Bear River, we’re a small school, but we seem to find a way to do things excellent, and not really let our size affect us,” Greene said.
“We kind of have a saying that ‘Bear River is small, but we do big.’ It’s kind of like an underdog kind of statement; we actually make things happen, and for a small school, that’s pretty cool.”
Greene, 18, is going to Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., to major in nursing.
“My teachers have been pretty good role models and people I can look up to,” Greene said. “Especially because we’re at Bear River. It’s a small community so they’re all like close family friends. They’re more than just teachers.”
Graduate Andrew Leonard will be going to the University of California, Los Angeles as a political science major in the fall.
“I want to be a lawyer because I want to help people,” Leonard said. “I know lawyers can get a bad rap some times, but I also know they can represent the little guy and help them out sometimes when people need someone to represent them and speak for them. I think if we have an opportunity to make this world a better place, we should take it.”
Leonard says that taking a leadership class at Bear River helped him to form a lifelong philosophy about the importance of having a strong community.
“I believe in this thing called ‘dare to be great,’” Leonard said.
“If greatness can be had, then why settle for mediocrity? Greatness can be had in the whole world if everyone is doing their part. We’re one big community, and I learned that at Bear River from the staff and the teachers, who are very helpful and good people. I will definitely miss them all.”
Salutatorian Rachael Price will be attending the University of Nevada, Reno with a major in nursing.
Price, 17, said she loves the Bear River community so much that she chose to go to a school that wasn’t too far away.
“I love it here,” Price said. “You just walk through this town and you know people, and they know you, so it is different from other cities. There’s a real community here, and I am just so glad that I will still be able to come back and visit as often as I can.”
Ryan Silva gave the valedictorian keynote address at this year’s graduation.
“On a personal level, the biggest thing I learned is the importance of relationships,” Silva said.
“A lot of times it’s not always about what you know, but who you know, and I think that Bear River has done me well in giving me the ability to practice on making relationships and meeting new people, and just preparing for that very important aspect of life.”
Silva, 18, plans to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will major in physics.
“Because it’s just a small school, I’m going to miss the great staff, the teachers that have become amazing mentors to me,” Silva said.
“I’d like to say thanks to them all for guiding us through the crazy experiences of high school. They were huge development years for us all, and I know without a doubt I would not be the person I am today without the amazing teachers that had my back.”
For Nieto, seeing this class walk across the stage Friday solidifies values he says he has tried to ingrain in them since their freshman year.
“I always try to remind them when they start school here that they should be thinking about what they’ll be doing once they walk across the stage on that first Friday in June, when they graduate from Bear River,” Nieto said.
“So that day is here, and I know a lot of them have a lot of great plans, and I know they’re all going to continue on to be successful, to do Bear River proud.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.