More than 400 students graduate from Farmington, Shiprock high schools

Five more county high schools will hold ceremonies Friday

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — More than 420 high school graduates received their diploma tonight in San Juan County, as Farmington and Shiprock high schools hosted graduation ceremonies.

Riley Jordan, left, and Marcos Nuñez Gonzales get ready for their Farmington High School graduation ceremony Thursday at the Farmington Recreation Center.

Farmington High graduated 304 seniors in a ceremony at Ricketts Park in Farmington, and Shiprock High graduated 119 seniors in a ceremony at the school, according to information provided by the schools in advance of the ceremonies.

FHS student body president Monica Briones welcomed friends and families and introduced platform guests before valedictorian Hannah Herring and salutatorian Luke Stolzfus addressed the crowd.

Brittney Sage Topaha, left, Alexis Atson and Alexander Pollock take a photo together Thursday before the start of the Farmington High School graduation ceremony at the Farmington Recreation Center.

David Hawthorne, project manager for the Jaynes Corp. who led the school’s renovation and who is an FHS alumnus, delivered the keynote address before Farmington Municipal School District Superintendent Eugene Schmidt presented 18 honor graduates nominated by 18 teachers.

Nick Mayeux puts on his cap and gown Thursday before the start of the Farmington High School graduation ceremony at the Farmington Recreation Center.

Farmington Principal Tim Kienitz certified the class of 2018, and members of the school board presented graduates with their diplomas.

Senior class president Leslie Uribe-Castanon led the graduates in the ring and tassel ceremony.

At the Shiprock graduation, Kiana Poncho served as the master of ceremony. Catelin Dee said an invocation or opening prayer before Jodie Benally welcomed graduates and guests to the ceremony, and Tyrese Ben recognized the event’s guests.

Valedictorian Kristen Benally and salutatorian Esperanza Guerrero addressed the crowd before Quaid Shorty introduced commencement speaker, Native American actor Tatanka Means.

Shiprock High School graduates Chrishannon Keams, left, Tristan Jones, Trevor Jim and Nashota Jim sit through commencement rehearsal Thursday at the Chieftain Pit.

Shiprock Principal John Tohtsoni and Central Consolidated School District Acting Superintendent Terri Benn certified and accepted the graduates, respectively. CCSD School Board President Adam Begaye presented the graduates with their diplomas.

Justin Yazzie led the graduates in the tassel ceremony, and Josiah Cury said the benediction or closing prayer.

High schools throughout the region are celebrating the class of 2018 this week in graduation ceremonies. Aztec, Bloomfield, Charlie Y. Brown and Kirtland Central high schools, as well as the New Mexico Virtual Academy, will present their graduation ceremonies Friday.

High school graduation rates for the class of 2017 throughout the state averaged to 71.1 percent, according to New Mexico Public Education Department data. Data for this year’s graduating class should be available in the spring of 2019.

Farmington High’s 2017 graduation rate was 67.9 percent, compared to the Farmington Municipal School District’s overall rate of 66.2 percent.

Shiprock High’s 2017 graduation rate was 71.3 percent, compared to CCSD’s district-wide rate of 63.1 percent.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or