Independence graduates prep for the future

Student speaker urges peers to ?march to the beat of your own drummer?
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The first local graduation took place Tuesday evening with seniors from Independence High School doning caps and gowns and receiving their diplomas.

Nearly 60 Trailblazers crossed the Patti Baker Theater stage at next door's Roseville High School during the ceremony. Before the event began, seniors assembled backstage, taking photographs with each other and securing their caps on their heads.

"Where's my mom?" asked Denis Leskovets, jokingly, as a teacher struggled to arrange all the regalia on his gown and position his cap.

Leskovets graduated high school early and plans to attend Sierra College and enter the medical field as a registered nurse or doctor.

"I feel really great," he said. "It's been a long journey but it's been definitely worth it. This school is just fantastic."

Independence High School offers individualized, college-prep courses for students, and is one of two alternative campuses within the Roseville Joint Union High School District. The school offers the same core graduation requirements as traditional campuses, along with dozens of elective credits.

The school employs one-on-one instruction and small group classes, although online courses are also available. This flexibility is what appealed to graduate Kathryn Fisher, who was able to devise a schedule that accommodated her interest and educational goals.

In the fall, Fisher plans to attend Sierra College and major in psychology.

"I just really want to be a child psychologist," she said. "I want to help a lot of people."

Graduate Mikhailey Chiaratti took two classes her senior year and worked, including as a model. She's attending American River College in the fall and plans to major in business.

"(I'm looking forward) to graduating college and making money," she said.

During the ceremony, Principal Debra Latteri recited a quote from Nelson Mandela to encourage the graduates to use their education to tackle problems facing our world.

"'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,'" she said.

Fisher served as one of two commencement speakers and drew on another historical figure to inspire her peers, quoting Henry David Thoreau's advice to march to the beat of your own drummer.

"To me, this celebrates each and everyone's individuality ... and to discover for themselves where they fit into this world," she said.

Fellow commencement speaker Leskovets praised his peers for how far they'd come.

"When I first came to Independence High School, I was scared, worried and uncertain about my future," he said, adding that now he's ready for life post-high school.

He urged his classmates to be "true to ourselves, our value systems, our work ethic and, most importantly, our humanity."

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.