GRAD WEEK: Nevada County seniors get ready for life after high school |

GRAD WEEK: Nevada County seniors get ready for life after high school

Anjali Figueira-Santos
Special to The Union



North Point Academy

When: 6:30 p.m.

Where: Nevada Union High School Don Baggett Theatre


Ghidotti Early College High School

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Multipurpose Room at Sierra College Bell Tower quad (upper level)


Silver Springs High School

When: 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Silver Springs ball field


Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning

When: 11 a.m.

Where: Miners Foundry

Vantage Point Charter

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Ready Springs Gymnasium

Bear River High School

When: 7 p.m.

Where: J. David Ramsey Stadium


Nevada Union High School

When: 9 a.m.

Where: Hooper Stadium

For four long years, soon-to-be graduation seniors have faced high school. But as the end draws near, one wonders what comes next. College? Work? Travel?

High school can be challenging, and often highlights one of the most monumental transformations a young person has to go through. In addition to educational pressure and social stress, teens explore their plan for the rest of their life.

After four years of classes, tests and GPAs, has high school provided the well-rounded preparation for whatever these students plan to do in life? A few area graduating seniors recently shared their thoughts.

How do you feel about your time spent in high school?

Support Local Journalism

Soleil Hash-Gorbet: Forest Charter School student in the Global Studies program, plans on becoming a firefighter.

“My time in high school has been about letting go,” Hash-Gorbet said. “I very much had the mindset of having to do everything extra, and do the best you can, and you have to go to Harvard; like, you’re going to accept no less of yourself.

“I’ve kind of struggled with being able to let go of that other expectation I’ve had of myself — and everybody else’s expectation of myself. And so letting go of feeling like I had to attain this goal that really wasn’t what I wanted to do, I was only doing it because I thought that’s what I should do, and should be doing to be successful.”

Nevada Wadman: Nevada Union High School student, plans on a career in dance.

“It definitely went by really fast,” Wadman said. “I remember as a freshman thinking that I was going to be in high school for the rest of my life, and here I am today feeling like freshman year was yesterday.”

Liam McCarthy: Forest Charter School student, plans on an engineering career:

“The development over the last four years is what I’m most happy with, like becoming an adult, and becoming responsible. Not being a painfully awkward freshman anymore is great.”

What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your high school experience?

Leilani Horowitz: Nevada Union High School, plans on a career as a translator.

“I wish that I had been taught that — there’s all these tests that you put on your application, but they aren’t as important as everybody makes them out to be. Like, I wish I’d been taught that the SATs aren’t quite as important as everybody says they are.”

Wadman: “I don’t think I took advantage of the fact that I am a teenager — I always had something to do; and graduating, I have no idea what I am going to do with my life.

“I went into high school thinking that it was all about popularity, and that you have to be cool, you have to be in the ‘in’ crowd. I wish that someone had told me that it doesn’t matter, I wish someone had said ‘focus on your grades’, like high school is just four years of your very long life.”

Hash-Gorbet: “I wish I would have known that I could just relax. I’m a perfectionist by nature, in a lot of ways, and it causes me to put a lot more time and effort and focus into things than I probably need to — time that I could have spent exploring my interests. I’ve just learned in the last couple of years that everything that I do doesn’t have to be perfect, and good enough is good enough.”

McCarthy: “There are a lot of things around here that I could have taken advantage of, even in my own school, the Global Studies program I probably would have joined as a freshman.”

Was that something you felt the administrators could have helped with?

Indica Gaess: Ghidotii Early College High School, plans on career as psychologist.

“It just feels like every class we’re in is just work, work, work, work, while in other schools they have electives that are like art or drama, or ones that you can take to get your mind off school for a bit. What I feel like they need to do is to organize some classes that are not purely academic, to help the kids, you know, develop aspects of that as well — and keep the skill classes, since that’s important, obviously.”

McCarthy: “The responsibility on administrators in that situation would be to just explain more to students or to get teachers to explain more to freshmen, but, you know, students need to go after what they want, and ask about what’s available.”

Do you feel that high school has prepared you for life?

Wadman: “I think that there’s a lot that they don’t teach that’s part of growing up and learning yourself. I think for me — because I want to dance — that it’s prepared me more than any other school, because I’ve been so involved in the dance program and I’ve been able to do so much. But when it comes to academic classes, and knowing how to do taxes and knowing this and knowing that, and stocks, and bonds, like I have no idea.”

McCarthy: “I think mostly getting a job has prepared me for life, and having good parents that are willing to help me into adulthood. Making friends and learning how to speak in front of people, lead groups when you have to, and be a positive influence on your classmates — that definitely is an important set of skills that I’ve learned in high school. But, in general, if I’d just had the education that I’d learned here, I wouldn’t feel prepared.”

Gaess: “I think that it prepared me because Ghidotti taught me all the right skills. It wasn’t just like ‘Oh here’s how to be in a college class.’ They have a class specifically, a skills class called ‘Phoenix,’ where we just work on writing essays. It taught us how to do time management, how to take notes correctly and do a bunch of things that would definitely prepare us for college. I don’t know about preparing for life after college. In general, I don’t think they’ve prepared me for life after college. I think they prepared me well to be a worker bee maybe.”

Horowitz: “I feel pretty prepared, I’m still a little bit nervous about moving away, dealing with finances, and getting a job, but I feel really prepared for my classes.”

Hash-Gorbet: “I definitely think high school has prepared me for what I want to do afterwards, because Josh’s fire science class is what got me into an internship at the fire department. Which is where I decided that that is what I wanted to do. So very literally, and directly speaking, high school definitely helped me find that.”

Gaess: “I think high school played a big part in what I want to do. Because if I had not gone to Ghidotti, I’m not sure if I would have wanted to go to college, like I don’t know how that would have turned out. I am going into psychology, and I wasn’t really sure what major I wanted to do, but I took a psychology class at Sierra College, and I found a passion for it.”

Horowitz: “I also feel really prepared because of the dance program, because we do a ton of career prep stuff that applies to stuff other than dance. And I feel pretty darn prepared for building a resume and getting a job.”

Hash-Gorbet: “One thing that I really appreciate about Global Studies is all the opportunities that we get to explore yourself more personally. There have been a lot of projects in this class that have really caused me to look internally.”

Wadman: “What I’ve done with this dance program has been very eye-opening, and I would never have gotten these opportunities if it weren’t for my dance program, and I’m very thankful that I decided to do that.”

Hash-Gorbet: “All these things that help you explore what you’re passionate about, and your values, and I think that should be included in a lot more education, because I think that is one of my favorite things about going here.”

Anjali Figueira-Santos is a Forest Charter School student and intern at The Union. Contact her at

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Connect with needs and opportunities from

Get immediate access to organizations and people in our area that need your help or can provide help during the Coronavirus crisis.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User