Tucker Machart, Redwood Valley High School senior class president, offered a thank you on behalf of his fellow graduates to the teachers, counselors, coaches and parents who all made it possible for each of the 71 students who earned a high-school diploma during the 2016-17 school year.

“We could not have done it without you guys,” said Machart.

One by one each of those high-school students performed their last act together this past Sunday afternoon when they each walked across the stage in the Redwood Valley schools gym and were handed that signed piece of paper they have been working for 13 years to receive.

Yet, as Rick Jorgensen, RVHS principal said, that diploma is more than just words on a page.

“This is a certificate awarded by Redwood Valley High School to show you have completed a rigorous course of study,” said Jorgensen. “The diploma is not something that can ever be taken away from you. It is with you for life.”

While the graduates will need more training along whatever career path they pursue, it all starts with a high-school diploma.

“The diploma is an absolute necessity for today and in the future,” he said. "The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the average high-school graduate will earn $10,000 more each year than someone without a diploma.” 

Over a 40-year career, that equates to $400,000 in added earnings.

The diploma given to each of the graduates was earned by hard work and at times long nights of study, added Jorgensen, who said RVHS has helped to prepare each of them for what comes next in their lives.

“You all have a bright and exciting future ahead of you,” said Jorgensen, adding now it is time for each of them to change the world. “Dream big. Never stop learning. Embrace challenges.”

Jorgensen congratulated the Class of 2017, adding he is proud to have served as their principal. He expressed amazement in the amount of things this class has accomplished in four years.

Hopefully, he added, they will look back in the years to come on the years of high school as one of the best periods of their lives.

“All of you have changed in the last four years,” he said. “You have gained experience, knowledge and wisdom.”

Graduation, said Jorgensen, is a crossroads for those who have earned the high-school diploma, as it means leaving the comfort of the known for a world of new challenges to overcome. Jorgensen expressed his confidence that the members of the RVHS Class of 2017 are up to that challenge.