This year’s Golden Sierra High School graduation shared by the school’s three valedictorians — Kyle Cerniglia, MaryAnn Haynie and Caitlin Hess. The students were chosen based each of their overall cumulative grade point average. Students earn credit points generally up to 4.0 for classes regular required courses they take. Based on if the class is an advanced placement course, however, students can earn above and beyond that point.
Cerniglia, who plans to attend University of Nevada, Reno, is graduating with a 4.3 GPA, putting him between his two co-valedictorians. He will be studying biochemistry and molecular biology beginning this fall.
“I’m ready for eight more years and a long residency,” said Cerniglia, who said he wants to be an orthopedic surgeon. “I’ve always been interested in science, and I particularly enjoy studying things at a molecular level.”
Cerniglia was born in Sacramento and moved to Cool when he was in the first grade, approximately 2001. He attended his earlier school years at Northside School. During his high school career he was a writer for the Bear Facts, and said he enjoyed journalism very much, particularly his teacher Mark Hendrix. But science was his ultimate choice of study.
“I used to want to be an engineer but I don’t think I’d be happy with a desk job,” he said. As for graduation, “I feel like I’ve accomplished something really big. It feels pretty good to be recognized.”
Cerniglia is the son of Sean and Beverly Cerniglia of Cool, both of whom also work in technical fields.
Hess, the daughter of Mike and Ginger Hess of Cool, is taking her leave of high school with an accumulative GPA of 4.2. Although she is still undecided in her major, she has been awarded and offered scholarships as a result of her academic and athletic (volleyball) achievements.
Unfortunately, a knee injury in March led her to not play volleyball. “I got through the school volleyball season,” she said, “and I got through one month or so of club season. It’s pretty inconvenient.”
Hess said she had been offered a full academic scholarship and opportunity to play on an Arkansas school’s team, but since her injury the offer has been rescinded.
“I wasn’t really set on that school,” she said. Currently, Hess is looking at two major universities for further education — Holy Names University in Oakland and Rider University in New Jersey.
“Ideally, I’d like to go to Holy Names,” she said. “It’s closer and a smidge cheaper. It’s also a Division II conference school and we’d get to travel to Hawaii.”
Both schools have their pros, but Hess said it comes down to her (volleyball) scholarship offers. She said if she were to attend one or the other, she would not play her freshman year but would begin her sophomore year, giving time for her torn ALS to heal.
For her academic studies, Hess said she wants to major in behavioral neuroscience and psychobiology. “I’ve always been interested in how the brain works and why we do the things we do,” she said. “I’d like to study optometry and then branch out from there, but I’m not interested in surgery.”
Referring to her graduation, Hess said, “The Divide is all I’ve ever known. It’s provided a really good foundation, and the small community has helped a lot. (But) I’m ready to get out and meet some new people and have new experiences.”
Preceding Hess in her family as valedictorian was her brother Cody, who graduated in 2008 and attended Cal State Long Beach on the Presidential Scholarship.
MaryAnn Haynie fills the spot of this year’s third selection for valedictorian. She is graduating with a 4.5 GPA and plans to attend Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.
“I applied to big name schools and Emory is in the top 20, but it’s not as recognized as Duke or Yale,” said Haynie, who plans to major in psychology. “My sister (April, a 2005 graduate of GS) helped me research schools and she suggested Emory. I wasn’t sure at first, but then I visited the campus and knew it was the place for me.”
Haynie, who received several scholarships not only for her academic work but also her musical talents, was accepted by both BYU in Utah and Pepperdine University in California. One of Emory’s big draws for her is its “study abroad” program.
“It’s bittersweet to be leaving the Divide,” she said. “I’ve grown up here; this is my home. I’m a bit nervous, but extremely excited; and I’m grateful for the programs here and the attention I’ve received from teachers.”
Proficient in her musical talents particularly on the piano, Haynie has won the Rotary district music contest three consecutive years. She plans to continue with music as of now, but isn’t sure how she will incorporate it into her major plans.
“Music is key (no pun intended) in my life,” she said. “Playing at the university level will provide me with opportunities to improve and perform.”
Self-taught on the trumpet as well, Haynie said she feels lucky to have played with the middle school and high school bands. Surprisingly, she has not been taught by her mother, Diana, a well-known piano teacher on the Divide, but rather by Barbara Folwarkow of Cool.
“My older brother found that out,” she said of having a teacher other than her mother. “A student is more able to respect a teacher other than their parent, and it provides fresh ears and a different perspective when you play for them (parents).”
It is the “expression of music” that Haynie said she enjoys so much, but it is her interest in people that moved her to choose psychology as a major.
“I’m heading toward child psychology, maybe counseling,” she said. “I like to observe people and am very interested in social psychology” or the study of social interactions.
Haynie was preceded by three siblings as graduates of GS – Franklin in 2001; April, 2005; and Nathaniel, 2007. She is the daughter of Diana and Carl Haynie of Pilot Hill.
No matter what, these three students have bright futures ahead of them. The honors they will receive at Friday night’s commencement, June 1, is the icing on their proverbial cakes and well deserved.