BISBEE — Life continues after high school.
That’s what Center for Academic Success (CAS) Douglas campus principal Marcela Munguia wants the Class of 2019 to remember now that they have graduated and leave the CAS halls.
“They know I’m proud of them,” she said Tuesday before the graduation ceremony. “They know this is a big accomplishment but this is just one small step in a series of a accomplishments for them.”
“My charge to my students is: you and you alone are responsible for your future. Don’t look for other people to blame if something goes wrong.”
On Tuesday evening 55 seniors from the CAS Sierra Vista and Douglas campuses received their diplomas and turned their tassels at Bisbee High School. Munguia said this year’s graduating class is the most in the school’s 22-year history. The previous high was 52 students.
Twenty-four of the graduates were from Douglas, which is roughly the same as they had last year.
“Every single one of the Douglas graduates are enrolled in higher education,” Munguia said. “Half have been attending Cochise College since the spring semester. We want to make sure they know what college is about and don’t be afraid of it.”
Many of Tuesday’s graduates will be continuing their education at Cochise College. Yoselin Matepen will be studying administration justice, with the goal of being a cop because she wants to make a difference in the world, even if it’s a small change.
Valedictorian for the Sierra Vista campus, Lexis Shorter will also be attending Cochise College with the goal of starting a career that helps people.
She wants to be a traveling nurse.
“Nursing has been a family tradition for the women in my family,” Shorter said. “I like helping people and traveling so it’s a perfect combination.”
Like Mungia, Shorter used her speech to encourage her peers to forge their own paths and follow their hearts.
“If you don’t know what you want to do yet, we’re still young and have time,” she said. “Don’t feel pressured by those around you to decide right now.”
Some of the seniors paths don’t include Cochise College or any community colleges as a segue.
Jorge Cruz has enlisted in the U.S. Air Force because he wants to serve his country while pursuing a higher education. And Meghan Fermenich plans to take some time off from school before following her passion of working with young children.
“People say I’m good with kids,” she said. “I like seeing them have so much life and light in their eyes.”
Although miles separate the two campuses, many of the graduates agreed that the people they met at CAS — whether in Douglas or Sierra Vista — are some they’ll never forget.
“I met some pretty amazing people that have helped me out a lot throughout the way,” Fermenich said.
“I’m going to miss my friends and the memories we made,” she said. “We had our ups and downs but it was worth it.”
SIERRA VISTA — On Tuesday afternoon, the Douglas Wildland Fire Crew worked along Hereford Road to reduce the amount of flammable brush and other fire hazards as part of ongoing efforts to keep wildfires at bay in the area.
The crew is made up of 20 lower-security inmates of the Arizona State Prison Complex in Douglas as part of a partnership between the Arizona Department of Corrections and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management to reduce hazardous fire fuels.
Sgt. Ivan Ballesteros supervises the crew and has been part of the program for three years.
He said the work on Hereford Road has been ongoing and will continue this week.
The program works through mutual contracts of all agencies involved. When the county needs fire fuel reduction work done, they work through the DFFM and a DOC crew will do the work.
Ballesteros said the Douglas crew are always working and that the program doesn’t just benefit the community by reducing the risk of wildfires; it gives inmates a positive experience.
“My staff and crew coordinates with the forestry department on this program that’s been going on for years,” he said. “It’s a great program that uses lower security inmates who get a great opportunity.”
“When they get out they get the opportunity to go into the real world and do something with their lives.”
Alongside Ballesteros are several officers who help supervise and work with the crew.
For more information on the program, visit dffm.az.gov/fire.