Record Number of Umatilla High School Seniors Earn AAOTs

classs of 2020 gold letters

Principal Bob Lorence recently shared that the class of 2020 at Umatilla High School will be known for far more than graduating during COVID-19. This year's class has also set a new record for the number of students graduating with both their Associates of Arts Transfer Degree (AAOT) from Blue Mountain Community College and their high school diploma. Previously, the school record for concurrent AAOT degrees and high school diplomas at UHS was six students in 2017. The class of 2020 not only broke the record, they doubled it! 

Elizebeth Burres, Patricia Burres, Yarectzy Carrillo, Bryan Cervantes-Ortiz, Briana Duron Gutierrez, Rosy Madrigal-Rodriguez, Yaretzy Morfin, Marisol Munoz-Ordaz, Erika Ricardo-Ochoa, Darian Smith, Ethan Smith and Naomie Wyckoff will all celebrate their high school graduation this Saturday and their Blue Mountain Community College graduation June 11th.

Superintendent Heidi Sipe credits multiple factors for success of the early college program at Umatilla High School. She states that the vision of the school board established the current program in 2012 and maintained dedication to funding it even during budget challenges. "Without the commitment of the School Board, this program could not exist. They recognize the power of the college options and understand the positive impact it has had on Umatilla students and they've been steadfast in their support," stated Sipe.

She also applauds the efforts of Principal Bob Lorence and his staff. Says Sipe, "Bob Lorence has worked to build a culture of success at UHS. Dee Lorence starts goal setting with students and mapping out their degrees their Freshman year of high school and supports students throughout their journey. The teachers regularly teach dual credit classes and encourage students to challenge themselves by enrolling in the college courses."

Umatilla High School blends online classes from the community college and on-site classes through Eastern Promise to create the pathway for students. The school district covers the entire cost of the dual credit classes and provides scheduling support for students as well. Traveling the path is up to the students and they recognize the value. Cohorts of students have worked together to encourage each other and hold each other accountable. Ethan Smith states, "Achieving an associates degree in high school is something that would be challenging, but with support from fellow classmates, it was possible."

Ninety-three students will graduate from Umatilla High School on Saturday, May 30th at 6 pm in a drive-through style ceremony followed by a driving parade at 7 pm and a fireworks show courtesy of the City of Umatilla at 9 pm. 

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