Kaweah graduates record class

For the first time Exeter's continuation high school, Kaweah High School, has graduated six seniors mid-term, and there is a possibility that 18 more will graduate in May.

"We normally have a couple of seniors graduate but this year seniors represent nearly half of the student body," said Kaweah guidance counselor Kathy Rosas.

Ralph De Los Santos, director of alternative education and principal at Kaweah, said the students at Kaweah must meet all of the graduation requirements that Exeter Union High School students must meet. They must meet all of the high school's benchmarks and receive a passing grade on their senior portfolio and exit interview with community leaders.

"There is always a stigma that this is the place where the bad students go and are forgotten about," De Los Santos said. "But many of these kids have an opportunity to return to the high school, but choose to stay here because they are more comfortable."

De Los Santos said Kaweah offers troubled students more one-on-one instruction because of the relatively small student population of 70. The continuation high school also offers classes that deal with coping skills, goal setting and life skills.

"Many of these kids come from a bad situation so they need another type of education to help them deal with that in addition to academics," De Los Santos said.

"But they will get their diplomas just like the regular high school students."

The six graduating seniors were Albert Villa, Luis Valdovinos, Danielle Webb, Robert Barajas, Nevada Henry and Sarah Simpkins.

Villa wants to study criminology at College of the Sequoias before deciding what career path he will choose. Valdovinos said he will try to get a job as an X-Ray technician or in corrections while he works his way through school at Fresno State. Webb said she will attend COS to obtain a nursing license or may study to become a dental hygienist. She even has a contingency plan - joining the U.S. Navy.

Barajas said he will focus on the next two years before deciding what he wants to do. He said after finishing community college courses he will see which subjects interested him the most. In the long run, he would like to run his own business. As for Henry and Simpkins, they both want to pursue careers in forensic medicine.

"It will take about 15 years of school but I really want to be a medical examiner," Henry said.

"We are especially proud of this group because they have definite career paths and goals," Rosas said.

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