HOUNDS WALK: 273 graduate from Atascadero High School

PASO ROBLES — The scorching 90-something-degree weather gave way to a cool evening breeze just in time for 273 graduating Atascadero High School seniors to march onto the field at Memorial Stadium for the last time as Greyhounds during the school’s 97th commencement ceremony Wednesday evening.

After the presentation of colors by U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, a singing of the national anthem by senior choir members and a welcome from Senior Class President Alex Cooper, AUSD Superintendent Tom Butler presented Class of 2018 Salutatorian Ashlyn Brookshire and Valedictorian Franko Jira.

Brookshire graduated with a Grade Point Average of 4.44. During her high school career, she competed in varsity golf, participated in the show choir, drama class and drama club where she performed in numerous musical theater presentations including “The Addams Family,” “Grease,” “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Once Upon A Mattress.” She served as the lead choreographer for the show choir, leading the school’s first-place “mock rock” team. She was also an active member of the Friday Night Live club and participated in the club’s “Every 15 Minutes” presentation. She received an academic Letter of Recognition and was also named a “scholar-athlete.” Brookshire plans to study mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley and also plans to continue performing in musical theater.

Valedictorian Franko Jira graduated with a GPA of 4.47. During his high school career, Jira competed on both the cross country and track and field teams, making it to the post-season nine different times and also being named a “scholar-athlete.” Jira was the founder of two school clubs — The Men of the Book organization and The Giving Box — and served as a Sunday school leader at his church. Jira was president of the National Honors Society and vice president of the California Scholarship Federation and was also selected as “Boys State” governor by the other delegates. He plans to attend Harvard in the fall where he will study pre-med.

Jira also served as the commencement speaker for the Class of 2018 and began his speech a bit of humor that solicited a wave of giggles and a few belly laughs from the audience.

“Welcome to historic Atascabama,” Jira started. “Located just between Santa Margassouri and Templetucky. Hello seniors, hello crying parents and texting siblings. Hello teachers young and old, hello grandparents — awake and asleep.”

Jira focused his speech on highlighting the different challenges faced by different students and how family, friends and teachers have helped to guide them through it all.

“Real life can be scary and often times we feel like we’re left to figure it out on our own, especially now,” he said. “However, we’re not alone and we haven’t been alone. Just like a page of lecture notes we turned to when we got stuck on a math problem, we turned to our family, friends and teachers for guidance as we took on the challenges of school, life and adulthood.”

Jira shared a quote from  character Andy Bernard from the NBC show “The Office,” who he called “the single greatest philosopher of our generation.”

“You never know that you’re living in the good old days until you’ve actually left them,” he said. “The last four years filled with Friday night lights, amazing school dances and Mr. Allen’s safety videos — those were the good old days. But just because our time here at AHS is over, it doesn’t mean that the fun is too. It’s time for us to go out and have new adventures with new friends and make lasting memories as we create a new set of good old days.”


© 2019-Atascadero News

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