BY JULIE FARREN
Glen View High School celebrated its commencement ceremony June 5 with the highest number of graduates — 91 — in the alternative education high school’s history.
The 21st Century Learning Institute graduated 23 students that same evening inside the Don Smith Football Stadium, next to the Beaumont Unified School District’s Educational Facility.
Family and friends gathered on the home side of the football stadium to cheer on their graduates.
There were hand-made signs and flowers awaiting the grads after the ceremony, which lasted just a little under an hour.
The Beaumont school board and members of the district’s cabinet, along with Superintendent Terrence Davis attended the ceremony for the alternative high school and the program that concentrates on K-8 home school and grades 9-12 online school.
Before the ceremony, soon-to-be grads Jared Meyers, 17, and Vanessa Grajeda, 17, talked about their plans for the future.
Meyers said he transferred over from Beaumont High School to Glen View for a half-year.
As for his future, he is exploring his options.
Graduating from high school was pretty exciting, Meyers said.
“Just knowing that I’m actually done with high school,” he said.
Grajeda plans to attend cosmetology school. “I just want to do make-up,” said Grajeda, who attended Glen View for two years.
Valedictorian Megan Kirkland, 17, said prior to the ceremony that she, too, transferred over from Beaumont High School.
Kirkland said she experienced a lot of stress during high school and was looking forward to a career in nursing, which she will study for the next five years.
During her valedictorian speech to the audience, Kirkland explained the challenges she faced during the past three years.
On the first day of high school as a freshman, Megan’s mother had heart surgery.
Halfway through her freshman year, her mother passed away.
“My whole world had just turned upside down,” Kirkland said. “I had lost my best friend and the only person I could talk to.”
Kirkland said she knew she had to work hard in life to achieve her dreams and she wants to influence other students going through difficult times.
“Go into the world and live your purpose,” Kirkland said.
Principal Bobbi Burnett was sharing a bittersweet ceremony with her students.
She was principal for the past three years and just accepted a new job with the district as coordinator of Student Services.
Burnett was an English teacher for 10 years prior to becoming a principal.
“It’s mixed emotions,” Burnett told the Record Gazette before the ceremony. “I am definitely going to miss seeing the students of alternative education. It’s been an amazing, amazing journey.’’
One of the guest speakers was Mary Gilliam, mother of graduate Kade Zuniga.
Gilliam said she was 22 and a single mom when she had her first child, Dylan.
He died 12 days after his second birthday from an asthma attack.
Gilliam took her grief and went on to earn two degrees and became a registered nurse.
She said she was the first person in her family to earn a college degree.
Now she was watching her son, Kade, earn his high school diploma.
It was important to her because she never earned her high school diploma and Dylan passed away before he could achieve that goal.
She could experience that feeling through Kade.
Iva Glassburner, of Beaumont, was sitting in the stands with family members, waiting to see her grandson, Gabriel Neumann, 17, graduate from Glen View High School.
Glassburner said that Gabriel plans to attend the University of California, Los Angeles and study engineering.
The mother of four and grandmother of 11 said she is proud of Gabriel.
“He worked really, really hard and got done with school really early,” Glassburner said.
Neumann had to wait six months to graduate with his class, his grandmother said.
Burnett said that 21st Century Learning graduates study at home or online and are self-motivated and self-disciplined.
Glen View High School graduates work toward credit recovery, Burnett said.
They can transition back to Beaumont High School or graduate from Glen View High School, she said.
Burnett told the students to be proud of what they have achieved.
“Your legacy is so impactful because it is what you will leave behind,” she said.
Reach Staff Writer Julie Farren at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (951) 849-4586, ext. 119.