'A Great Celebration' -- Mingus seniors prepare for graduation, commemorate scholarships and awards

Graduation begins at 7 p.m. Friday on the football field at Mingus Union High School. Graduates are to meet in the school’s gym at 6 p.m. to line up for the ceremony. Both Mingus parking lots are available, but they are expected to fill up by 6 p.m. Overflow parking is available in the Mingus lot across Camino Real from the east lot, at Fry’s and at the Faith Lutheran Church just east of the school.  (VVN file photo)

Graduation begins at 7 p.m. Friday on the football field at Mingus Union High School. Graduates are to meet in the school’s gym at 6 p.m. to line up for the ceremony. Both Mingus parking lots are available, but they are expected to fill up by 6 p.m. Overflow parking is available in the Mingus lot across Camino Real from the east lot, at Fry’s and at the Faith Lutheran Church just east of the school. (VVN file photo)

COTTONWOOD - In the past decade, the largest graduating class at Mingus Union High School was 308, back in 2010.

This year, including Mingus Online Academy and students who have graduated early, Mingus should have approximately 319 graduates, according to Principal Jennifer Chilton.

Graduating classes, as well as enrollment in general tend to be "fairly consistent at Mingus," Chilton says. "Some incoming freshman classes are just a bit larger or smaller, but most tend to be near 300."

With a graduating class nearly the population of Jerome, Mingus has a plan to allow its hundreds of spectators to not only enjoy Friday's big event, but also be safe as they navigate to and from the school's football field.

Though graduation begins at 7 p.m., football gates to the north open at 5 p.m. Seating is available on the football field for two guests of each graduate. Open seating is also available in the stands, so graduates can invite as many guests as they would like.

Handicapped seating is available directly behind graduates on the field. To sit in the handicapped seating area, present your handicapped card/identification; one person may accompany you.

Anyone who requires special assistance can be dropped off at the gate, and a cart will take them to the seating area.

Each year, the graduation ceremony is "a great celebration with our graduating seniors," says Dr. Paul Tighe, district superintendent. "I am very proud of our students and each class has amazed me with so many talented and thoughtful young men and women."

Excellence rewarded

Each year, Mingus Union High School recognizes the academic excellence of its students with a Scholarship and Academic Honors Ceremony. This year, that celebration will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the school's auditorium.

Says Chilton, award totals are still being tallied, but the current running total for local and private scholarships is $504,311. This does not include scholarships from universities or colleges, which significantly increase the awards total.

Local scholarships are provided "by many great organizations and memorial funds," Chilton says. "The dollar amount of class earnings increases as students are notified regarding scholarship amounts awarded from their choice of universities and other types of post-graduate schools and programs."

Total scholarship figures the past three years, including both local/private scholarships and scholarships from universities or colleges range from $1.8 million in 2013 to $2.7 million in 2015.

Of highest honor

Because of their participation in various activities at Mingus, both 2016 Valedictorian Brenna McCallum and Salutatorian Kaylee Gordon have been both "incredibly busy [and] incredibly successful," Chilton says.

"Brenna and Kaylee epitomize the energy and dedication that I admire in so many Mingus students," Chilton says. "Kaylee and Brenna certainly shine as examples of our school vision: competent, curious, respectful, and optimistic."

Brenna plans to attend the University of Southern California in the fall, and will major in psychology. Brenna will also work at a community day care provider for the summer so she can save money for school.

Kaylee, who is also senior class president, will attend Arizona State University and plans to major in broadcast journalism. Kaylee has also served as vice president of the Cottonwood Youth Advisory Commission.

Pomp and Circumstances

Graduation begins at 7 p.m. Friday on the football field at Mingus Union High School. Graduates are to meet in the school's gym at 6 p.m. to line up for the ceremony.

Both Mingus parking lots are available, but they are expected to fill up by 6 p.m. Overflow parking is available in the Mingus lot across Camino Real from the east lot, at Fry's and at the Faith Lutheran Church just east of the school.

Mingus will have three shuttles running in a continuous loop going from both the Fry's and Faith Lutheran parking lots to and from the school. There will also be golf carts running from the field's handicapped seating to the handicapped parking area in the school's west lot.

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