TINIAN (PSS) — Government and education officials joined the island community to honor and celebrate the 32 graduating seniors of Tinian High School on Tuesday.
The school held a face-to-face graduation ceremony that observed all Covid-19 safety protocols.
The Class of 2021 valedictorian and Board of Education awardee is Tasi Thomas Gutierrez Long who will attend Stanford University. BOE Chairman Andrew L. Orsini and Tinian Board Member Antonio Borja presented the award.
The salutatorian and this year’s recipient of the Commissioner of Education Award is Clarence Paraiso Rodriguez who received his award from Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred B. Ada and Public School System Special Education Director Donna Flores.
Also attending the ceremony were U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Tinian Mayor Edwin P. Aldan and Senate President Jude U. Hofshchneider, among other officials.
In his valedictory address, Tasi Thomas Gutierrez Long said he is proud of his classmates.
“We’ve been through one hell of a ride. If I had to choose a word in the dictionary to describe the Class of 2021, the word ‘resilient’ comes to mind. With Super Typhoon Yutu in our sophomore year and now having to deal with the Covid-19 global pandemic…in our junior and senior years, it is safe to say we have not had an easy high school experience. Yet, despite all the challenges we faced together, we still chose to persevere through it all.”
Tasi also honored his parents Phillip and Arley, and his siblings, Cielo Citlalli and Isa Ha'ani. “Thank you for being my biggest supporters. Without your guidance, discipline, and love, none of my accomplishment would have been possible. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he told them.
Clarence Paraiso Rodriguez, in his salutatory address, paid tribute to his mother Riza: “The most valuable person in my life.”
“Life has not been kind to her, and I do not know how she keeps going,” he said. “The passing of my dad, Ric, when I was 2 put the most stress on her, being a single mother for more than a decade and having to work many hours and late nights on Tinian. My little sister and I lived in the Philippines until we moved here in 2013.”
He added “ I hope my graduation makes you feel that all your efforts paid off. I am so sorry for all the troubles I’ve [caused] and if ever that you, [my sisters] Crizia, Clarize, and dad Olympo encouraged and pushed me to work on myself, know that I appreciate it more than anything. And even though it seems that I don’t listen, you guys gave me your persistent support and the rest is ultimately on me.”
The rest of the top 10 graduates are (3) Anisha Juana Cabrera Viches, (4) Elvie Marie Acido Dominguiano, (5) Kiran Arthur Malicdem Shrestha, (6) Yesha Joy Sosa Reyes, (7) Axl Matias Ong, (8) David Robert Reyes Mendiola, (9) Suhyeon Yoon, and (10) Ramier Gamban Balagtas.
The other awardees:
Suhyeon Yoon — Governor’s Award
Elvie Marie Dominguiano — Lt. Governor’s Award
Yna Marie Agbayani — School Leadership Award
The keynote speaker was Tinian High School vice principal Nikita Mendiola who graduated from THS in 2007.
“Fourteen years ago, I was standing here, just like you, ready to start my life,” she said. “Since then, I’ve done a lot of learning — and I am still learning to this day.”
She told the graduates to “decide what the limits are in terms of your dreams, stay humble and become a lifelong learner, embrace who you are and where you come from — there’s no place like home.”