Weed High School grads ‘exemplified team effort’

Steve Gerace
Weed High School graduate Justin Toms crosses the stage to receive his diploma Thursday evening.

Unity, teamwork and success were three of the themes during Thursday evening’s Weed High School Graduation Ceremony.

A large crowd of family, friends and community members heard addresses that touched on the academic and athletic successes enjoyed by the Class of 2014, their fondness for each other, and their hopes for future success.

The class of 25 graduates was part of several championship teams in several sports. They were awarded $212,200 worth of scholarships that were presented during a June 5 ceremony.

Principal Mike Matheson referred to them as “self-proclaimed clutch players” and encouraged them to “put it to work in our communities near and far... We need you, and we look for you to lead and offer that skill, that talent it takes to be a clutch player.”

Salutatorian Bettina Darger said the graduates “all had each others’ backs” and “stand together as a family.” She described the class as “your modern day Breakfast Club, an ensemble of misfits that found a way to fit together perfectly...”

She said Weed High School has prepared them “to take on the world and its challenges.”

Valedictorian Jillian Neel, who was also the Class of 2014’s Outstanding Female Athlete, said, “I wholeheartedly believe we have exemplified team effort at its best... a true life lesson in teamwork.”

She pointed to the graduates’ participation on many championship teams as well as being the first senior class to lead the Athletes Committed program at Weed High School.

“We have learned to come together to accomplish a greater goal, not just for each other but for our school,” Neel said.

She called the Class of 2014 “my favorite team,” and said, “we will strive to make the world a better place.”

They asked Class of 1997 graduate Holli Howard-Carpenter to give the Graduation Address. The youngest member of Weed High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame, she was a Ford Scholarship recipient who went on to athletic and academic success at College of the Siskiyous and Cal State East Bay, where she was an Academic All-American. She is now the head women’s basketball coach at Western Oregon University.

Howard-Carpenter said diplomas, awards and victories don’t make a person successful. She said success is better measured by your work ethic, confidence, integrity, personal growth and “trying to be a better version of yourself and inspiring others to do the same.”

She said her success has come from “focusing on the things I could control, my attitude and effort.”

She said she learned from her coaches and teammates to “value the ride more than just to arrive at the destination.”

Her keys to success include “being tough mentally” and knowing that you will make mistakes and learn from them.

She pointed to the power of making good eye contact with others and suggested that the graduates “spend less time updating you apps and statuses and more time updating yourself as a person.”


Weed High School’s Class of 2014 received the following scholarships. Counselor Kristin Carter said, “We’re so grateful to the community” for all they do for the graduates.

Bettina Darger – Irma Carpine Mem $400, Kiwanis $250, Cash for College $1000

Mikey Ducoing – Upward Bound, $350

Amanda Garcia – Knights of Columbus $700, Zimmerman $600, Holy Family Women's $1000, WHS Hispanic Alum $500

Lauren Gubetta – Shasta Lily Quilt Guild $1000, Zimmerman $600, Don Stensaas Mem (COS) $250, Weed Chamber $500, WHS Hispanic Alum $500, Kiwanis $250

Aidan Hagarty – Nacho Escatel Memorial $100, Carl Hoberg Memorial $500

Spencer Hall – McConnell Vista $30,000, Zimmerman $600, Weed Family (COS) $250, Dunsmuir VFW (COS) $500, Nacho Escatel Memorial $100, Blood Center $200, Ladies of the Elks $1000, Blakely $250

Jonathan Hofer – Cliff Gustafson, $500

Alyssa Merrill – Mazzei Family $500, Weed Chamber $500

Clayton Mills – Jason Roe Memorial $250

Megan Moser – Siskiyou Medical Group $500, College OPTIONS $1000

Jillian Neel – Siskiyou Scholar $3000, Irma Carpine Memorial $400, Evelyn Hopkins Memorial $500

Carlis Sanchez – FORD Sons & Daughters $25,000, Zimmerman $600, Nacho Escatel Memorial $100

Marielle Schnack – Zimmerman $600, FDN High School $1000, Women in Timber $500, Logger's Assn $2000, Kiwanis $250

Trevor Shaffer – FORD Sons & Daughters $25,000, Dennis Ruffalo Memorial $500

Miten Tailor – Sunrise Lions $250

Alicia Yerena – FORD Foundation Scholarship $100,000, Zimmerman $600.