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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

Reflections from the Class of 2020

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone in this town and world, and I would be remiss without mentioning some of the major things going on across the globe right now: a pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests being two of those that deserve everyone’s attention. On a much smaller level, high school seniors face the lesser challenge of a lack of the celebratory, closing activities that normally define the last few months of senior year. Prom, senior trip, graduation, and a last day of school all vanished in an instant, making this time that should be a highlight of our lives thus far seem just anticlimactic. Instead of solely focusing on these negatives, I decided to interview my fellow class of 2020 on the memories and moments that most stand out for them from their four years at Ukiah High.  

I asked nineteen of my peers and friends the same question: “What is the memory from your time at Ukiah High School that most stands out to you?”

“Having four years to make a lot of memories, it’s pretty hard to choose just one. I think it was my junior year that I got really involved in Club Latino. I remember being nervous at first, but as time went on, I spent some of the best lunches there with my friends. I kinda avoided any sort of school functions at all costs when I first got to the high school, but it felt good to get involved and meet a group of people that made me laugh like no other. Towards December, the club put together a Posada, and I remember from putting it together to the clean up after it was so fun. I spent so much time smiling and making jokes. I just remember that even though I stayed late and was exhausted, I finally felt like I belonged at the school, and it made me try more school functions, which eventually led me to meet more amazing people.” –Ana Correa 

“At the end of my junior year, I went across the country with my SeaPerch robotics team to compete at the international tournament. We had spent countless hours every single day for the past few months working on getting to this competition, and it was nerve-wracking. I remember sitting outside on the grass between events talking with my teammates when I saw a four-leaf clover. As a kid, I was fascinated by them but had never found one, but here I was in Maryland right before the competition with one between my fingers. Not only does this trip stand out to me when thinking about my high school experience, but this moment of pure joy in the midst of competition stress and nerves shows the beauty of high school. STEM Club has been a huge part of my experience at Ukiah High. It has allowed me to see success and failure, to meet incredible people, learn and explore way beyond the classroom, and to experience moments like this.” –Anna Fetherston

“The memory from high school that stands out to me most was playing water polo every fall. I started playing my freshman year with very little aquatic experience and barely made the JV team. My love and skill set for the game have drastically improved after playing year-round for the past four years. Now a senior, I had the privilege to captain the Varsity team, finished the season as top goal scorer, and won the blanket award. I enjoyed every tournament, away game, home game, and practice with my team. My coaches never quit on me and pushed me to the player I’ve become. And I’ve made unforgettable memories with my teammates along my journey. I plan on playing water polo in college, and I’m very excited about the experiences I’ll have there.” –Evan Sangiacomo

“The best memory I have from being at Ukiah High is making lifelong friends with incredible people that are going to do great things. We’ve been through all of senior year together, and I can’t wait to see where life will take us next. Being a part of the Varsity Girls Golf team was a huge part of that. I joined the team my junior year and all the friends I made I will be friends with for life. We loved to play and loved to see each other every day. With both Coach Katy and Coach Jeff, we had a lot of fun at practice learning to play a better golf game and goofing around laughing for hours. The golf girls were all so fun, and we looked forward to the days commuting to matches in the infamous Suburban. The team brought me so much laughter and friendships unlike any other.” –Emma Tierce

“My favorite memory at Ukiah High was my experience joining the stem club, specifically the science olympiad team. This group of intelligent and driven individuals accepted me as if I had been part of the team from the beginning, and made my first and last year of high school the most memorable year thus far. The welcoming and energetic atmosphere was the most unforgettable.” –Emilio Diaz

“The memory that most stands out to me is when I competed in a cardboard boat race with all of my friends during my junior year. I worked all week on the design and construction of the boat with Donnie, Desaraie, and Sarah, and they slept over the night before to finish it. We thought that there was no way it was going to float, but we were excited to give it a try nonetheless. The race was so much fun since all of my friends from Physics class competed. The best part of all, though, was that our teacher, Mrs. Upton, showed up to cheer us on! We had not seen her since she had given birth to her daughter earlier in the year, and we had all missed her so much. Desaraie and I hopped in the boat, and it started to sink at first, but it held on, and somehow we won our race. We moved on to the final race, where we finished second, which I couldn’t believe since there was no way I thought we would even finish one race. I got to ride in the winning boat with Upton and after, we celebrated by playing the game Roadkill in physics class. It was such a fun day overall and definitely my favorite memory from high school.” –Jolie L’Heureux

“One of my favorite memories from high school is a game that a large group of people from all the grades played called highlighters. The main point of the game was to find your target and mark them with a highlighter, who was now out of the game as if they’d been assassinated. It was a hilarious week, and there were about twenty of us that were just full of anxiety playing the game. We also met new people through it and bonded with our classmates over the fun of it.” –Ella Nelson

“I will always remember the time when the girls from our VEX Robotics team were invited to the Girls Powered Robotics Workshop at Google. Not only was this an enriching experience that gave me engineering, problem-solving, and leadership skills, but it helped me build new connections. Being in the Robotics program taught me how to work effectively in teams and bond with people. In this specific event, I got to get to know all my teammates better and create a harmonious workplace. But the thing that I’ll remember most of this is how I got the opportunity to strengthen my friendship with my best friend. We developed a friendship that stands the test of time.” –Hiroko Jimenez

“The amount of memories I created during my time at Ukiah High is countless. However, one of my favorites and most memorable moments has to be winning homecoming our senior year. Being in class office for three years and seeing all the countless amounts of work put into this event was something I will cherish forever. Also, nothing will beat the excitement and relief I saw from my class when the spirit commissioners announced the seniors were taking first place. This moment will forever be remembered because I was always so passionate and dedicated to my class and homecoming.” –Kelly-Ann McKeown

“One of my most notable memories at Ukiah High School takes place in Mrs. Upton’s classroom at 4:00 a.m. Mrs. Upton is my calculus and physics teacher, and also our STEM Club advisor. To call Mrs. Upton dedicated would be an understatement. After building a balsa wood cantilever overnight with a Science Olympiad teammate, Mrs. Upton agreed to meet me in her classroom at 4:00 a.m. to prepare the project for our competition that morning. We spent several hours discussing design improvements and adding to the structure. Thanks to Mrs. Upton’s help—and lack of sleep—my balsa wood cantilever placed second at the regional competition in Sacramento.” –Morgan Holstine

“One memory I have from being at the high school would be my daily lunch trips with my friends. We would all pack in my friend Kelly Ann’s car and go for a ride to Safeway, Happy Donuts, Raley’s, you name it, and we always had a blast. None of us knew that our last time going to lunch together would be our last time, but I’m grateful for each and every one of those experiences.” –Anthony Baroza

“The last four years have been filled with laughs and joy, and I am so thankful to have numerous memories that will last a lifetime. One of the best memories was senior year homecoming, a time when I spent so many late nights with my fellow seniors painting our float and learning the skit and dance to finally win the spirit bell. Perhaps the most cheer and tear-filled day, however, would be at the homecoming football game. On top of running for homecoming royalty, which enhanced my homecoming experience, it was standing anxiously in the middle of the football field, freezing in my homecoming dress and heels alongside my classmates that will forever live in my mind. The shared excitement seconds before hearing who had won is unparalleled. Unforgettably, when we heard “the seniors,” we were jumping up and down, screaming, and all of a sudden crying. I was hugging people from my class that I had never talked to before and bonded more with those I already knew. Undeniably, homecoming brought us all closer together and led to the creation of new friendships with whom to share the rest of our senior year. So thank you, UHS, and the class of 2020 for making high school some the best years yet. Love you all.” –Karina Alvarado

“The memory that stands out to me most while at Ukiah High School was when my junior year of volleyball, my team was undefeated at the end of the season, and we made it to playoffs. We were all so happy! It felt as if we had just won state! It stands out to me because although we lost in the playoffs, we were so happy that we made it to that point together, and we knew that everyone had fought so hard and contributed. It was amazing to see everyone coming together as a team and, more importantly, a family.” –Victoria Ruiz

“Although it might not sound like a memory that should stand out, and it’s not necessarily one memory, but nothing in my life could replace my days in leadership. During my senior year of high school, I took leadership and absolutely loved it. We made some of the best memories and had the hardest laughs in that classroom. I made some of my forever friends and learned a lot about myself. For me, the simple things mean the most. I loved making posters, chatting about homecoming, coming up with dance themes, doing homework with my friends, and when all of the work was done playing hangman with the class. Knowing I had a safe place to land when I was having a bad day saved me from all of the stresses of senior year. My advice to all incoming freshmen is to take leadership because I wish I would have taken it all four years.” –Emma Capri

“One of my favorite high school memories is the tradition that started during my sophomore year. On the day of our first performance for The Nutcracker, my friends and I would wear our matching sweaters to school. It always marked that the holidays had truly arrived for me and was a fun way to celebrate all of our time together!” –Miranda Stearns

“The memory that stands out the most in high school is winning our senior homecoming. My class has never come close to winning, so this year we decided to give it our all. Since we wanted to win, my friends and I all worked countless hours on every aspect of homecoming at the warehouse. Putting in all of the work to be able to stand on the football field with my friends and carry around the Spirit Bell for the first and last time is something I will never forget.” –Scott Niderost

“One of my own favorite memories was the moment in February of this year at the county Mock Trial competition when it was announced that the Ukiah High team had qualified for the California state finals for the second year in a row. It meant even more to me because I was president of the team and felt so proud of what we had accomplished together, and it also proved that the previous year where we had broken a ten-year losing streak was not a fluke. Though we were not able to attend the competition due to the pandemic, those moments of pure celebration and joyous tears will forever remain in my mind.” –Ava Mortier

“The most memorable moment was senior night for basketball. I had played since I was five and looked up to Ukiah High School players growing up. It was such an exciting thing when I made the varsity team my junior year and even more exciting when I started and made captain my senior year. Senior night was like a celebration of that chapter closing in my life and a realization that I got to achieve my childhood goal.” –Sydney McQueary

“Many of my most precious memories of high school come from my experiences competing in SeaPerch, STEM Club’s underwater robotics program. I joined as a sophomore, not really knowing what I was getting myself into, and I ended up spending about three hours every day after school working with my team. We worked for hours after school not because we had a schedule or because the club required it, but because there was nowhere else we would rather be. Every day we designed and built and tested. We also joked and laughed and sang. We commiserated when our robot failed, and we celebrated when it did not, and our failure became our comedy while our success became our pride. We made it to the International SeaPerch Challenge twice. I am so proud of our ingenuity and triumph, but the memories I value most are of our failures, because we pulled together, cheered each other up, and tried again. Because those are the experiences that forged our bond.” –Sean Coursey

“One of the things that most stands out to me about Ukiah High is just spending time with my friends and meeting new people. I think it’s something we all need to appreciate because we might now know it, but we created so many memories by just having simple conversations. The more I spent time with my friends, the more I realized I was going to really miss them because just having them around made my day better.” –Araceli Alvarez

As you can see, the class of 2020 is not letting the last few months define our high school career. We made the memories and had the experiences that we will take with us to our various futures, while always treasuring the time we spent at Ukiah High School.