Class of 2021: ‘It’s been a really wild ride’ |

Class of 2021: ‘It’s been a really wild ride’

From classroom sessions behind a computer screen to missed dances and games, the class of 2021 has endured much during the pandemic.

Since they were juniors, this year’s graduating class has dealt with ever changing guidelines in the classroom and regulations outside of it. Now, as summer nears, they will take the first steps down a new path, graduating from schools across the Truckee-Tahoe area.

“It’s been a really wild ride,” said Sierra High School senior Bishop McNeal. “Overall, it’s been a great experience. We got it done and we’re graduating. We’re finally going to be on our own and out in the real world.”

McNeal, who plans on attending college, said he’s gone to schools in Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri, but Sierra High School has had the most impact on his education.

“Out of all of the schools that I’ve been to, this is the best one,” he said. “I don’t think any school is going to be able to top this one as far as the help I’ve received, the people I know, and just the overall learning experience.”

This year’s graduating class began the year learning from home before slowly transitioning back to a five-day school week. Students missed out or had shortened sports seasons, had events canceled, and had to deal with a myriad of other restrictions.

“We missed out on some things. Sports season, prom, in-school learning, travel, the list goes on. But the losses are not what define us. It’s what we do after them,” said North Tahoe senior Stefan Hatch in his commencement address.

“If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that life is wildly unpredictable. Of course, it can be unpredictable for the worse, but I think that this class is due for some pleasant surprises. I look forward to seeing how my classmates will fare in this evidently volatile world. I look forward to seeing the places we end up, the people we’ll end up meeting, the careers we’ll have, and the accomplishments we’ll achieve.”

Sierra High School senior Irving Pantoja Luna said the beginning of the year and working through distance learning was the most difficult part of making it to graduation day.

Classmate Taylor Lyon-Dedeker said she attended three different schools during her freshman year, and often struggled. She credits the diploma she’ll receive to the staff at Sierra High School

“The community (at Sierra High School) is great,” she said. “All the teachers actually care about the students’ education. It’s been the determination of the teachers that makes it so great.”

Lyon-Dedeker said she plans on studying photography after graduating.

North Tahoe High School graduated its senior class Thursday at Laker Stadium. Students from Truckee High School will get their diplomas Saturday. Each senior was allowed six in-person guests.

Truckee High School will send off its graduating class off at 11 a.m. Saturday with a ceremony at Surprise Stadium. Due to restrictions, according to the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, there will not be any on field celebrations at the event.

The small class at Sierra High School will graduate on Wednesday.

Other graduations in the area include Tahoe Expedition Academy, which will say farewell to its senior class on Saturday. Sugar Bowl Academy on Saturday will graduate a class of 15 seniors that earned a combined $3,189,804 in scholarship money for college. In Squaw Valley, students at Lake Tahoe Prep already receiving diplomas, having graduated May 21.

Graduation ceremonies will be streamed at

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643

The Truckee High School Class of 2019 celebrates graduation day.
Sierra Sun file photo

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