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Desert Oasis High School seniors graduate in emotional ceremony

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | June 9, 2021 1:03 AM

EPHRATA — The Desert Oasis High School class of 2021 finished during a ceremony Monday at Huskie Stadium at Othello High School -- a big day for the 25 graduates of the alternative school.

“A huge achievement for me,” Jovani Gonzalez said.

It took him longer than some other students, he said, but he made it, and he expressed gratitude to his family, friends and the DOHS staff for supporting him along the way,

“It was a journey for me,” Gonzalez said.

“Lots of joy,” Alfonso Gonzalez said of graduation day. “Very epic. That’s it.”

Dejera Conrad took pictures with her parents and grandparents, extended family and friends after the ceremony, and said that was one of the benefits of graduation day.

“It means a lot. It brings all my family and friends together,” she said.

Making it to graduation taught her some things about herself, she said.

“It shows me how far I’ve come in life, and it makes me wonder what my future is going to be,” Conrad said.

“Emotional,” said Yoseline Montemayor.

It was so emotional most of the speakers choked up a little, including class salutatorian Florisa Cazares Pineda. Graduation 2021 was the first year DOHS chose a valedictorian and salutatorian.

She had to juggle motherhood and marriage with school, she said, and she started at DOHS with three credits. She was determined to graduate with her class, she said, and she did, despite the challenges. She expressed gratitude to her family and the DOHS staff for helping her get there.

It wasn’t the senior year the class had envisioned, she said.

“It doesn’t matter. We are on our way,” Cazares Pineda said. “It was not easy but we did it.”

Valedictorian Aida Cuevas also gave credit to family and DOHS staff for helping her get to graduation day. The experiences the class of 2021 gained from school will help them get where they want to go, she said. She said her classmates should never forget where they came from, and never forget where they’re going.

Desert Oasis High School Principal Josh Tovar paid tribute to two DOHS students who received the first-ever given graduation awards. He said they worked hard and showed determination, and those are common themes with DOHS students.

Those two included Efrain Rosete, who received the perseverance award. He dropped out of school two years ago, Tovar said, but came back to school and got his diploma. Andres Sanchez received the principal’s award. Sanchez faced a number of challenges along the way, Tovar said, some very serious. But he made it to graduation.

Interim Othello Superintendent Pete Perez told the graduates a high school diploma is a valuable document, providing opportunities they might not have otherwise. He advised them not to waste it, and take advantage of their opportunities.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

More photos of Desert Oasis High School's graduation can be found here.