Aaron Azevedo and Shelby Yocum earned the designation of Ray High School Co-Valedictorians while Savannah Ortiz earned Salutatorian honors for the Bearcats’ Class of 2020.
Around the world, the Senior Class of 2020 will forever be connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the unprecedented circumstances surrounding its graduation ceremonies – virtual and otherwise.
The trio addressed the pandemic in recent email interviews with Copper Basin News, giving their perspectives on how their graduating class can make an impact in changing the world.
“I see myself and graduating class making an impact by learning from history and our past mistakes,” Azevedo wrote in his response. “I feel that we can deal with the short- and long-term issues of our planet because we are problem solvers and critical thinkers.”
Yocum also believes the class of 2020 can learn from the pandemic and apply their knowledge in the future.
“I hope my graduating class will learn something from the pandemic and help prepare our country for anything that may happen in the future,” she said. “I can see members of this class making new discoveries or inventions that will really (benefit) us in the future.”
Added Ortiz: “We may not all know each other, but this pandemic has connected us and made the class of 2020 whole and united. The class of 2020 is full of future doctors, teachers, artists, inventors, and most importantly leaders. This new changing world is scary and challenging, but I can assure you the class of 2020 will be there with a helping hand and bright smile every step of the way, excited for a change.”
Azevedo, the child of Joseph and Roxanna Fuerstenberg, and Daniel and Sarah Azevedo, is the grandchild of Joseph and Ginger Faucette, Junita Chesley, Bill and Sharon Fuerstenberg, Robert Azevedo Jr., Diana Yslas, and Robin Moss. He also has eight siblings – Daniel, Isaiah, James, Abigail, Mary, Rachel, Ruby and Sampson.
A four-year member of the Ray High School Marching Band, in which he played the trumpet, Azevedo also played basketball for a year and ran track for three years. He severed as a member of the National Honor Society, Boy Scouts of America – Life Scout, Science Club, and Student Council.
After graduation, Azevedo will attend the Honors College at Northern Arizona University this fall, where he plans to major in Astronomy and minor in Computer Science. He hopes to one day work for NASA.
What will Azevedo miss most about high school?
“Making jokes with my friends and performing with the band,” he answered.
“Pointless drama” is the thing he will not miss.
Azevedo includes new experiences and stepping out of his comfort zone as what he is looking forward to in the next phase of his life. He is also ready for life in the big city.
What will Azevedo be doing in 10 years?
“I envision myself having a PhD, working for NASA, and exploring the unknowns of space,” he responded.
Azevedo hopes that Kearny grows economically, and the population increases during the next 10 years. “Family and friends” will make him want to return to Kearny in adulthood.
Yocum, the child of Lana Hatfield and Ryan Yocum, the grandchild of Tim and Donna Hatfield, and Zelinda and Erbin Yocum, has two siblings – Destry and Cole.
A highly decorated multi-sport student-athlete throughout her high school career, Yocum played softball, volleyball, basketball and ran track. She was vice president of the National Honor Society, a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, and the senior class treasurer.
After graduation, Yocum will attend Arizona State University, where she will major in Health Sciences. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, she will begin Physician Assistant school for an additional two to three years, after which she will be a licensed Physician Assistant. She plans to specialize in Emergency Medicine and “work in an emergency room in the Valley.”
What will Yocum miss most about high school?
“Playing sports with my friends,” she wrote in her email response. “I made memories with all of my teammates that I will never forget, and I hope I stay in touch will all of them.” She will not, however, “miss having class at 7:45 a.m.”
She is looking forward to “going to college and meeting new people and experiencing new things. It’s going to be a huge change moving to a big city, but I am ready for it and excited to see what the future holds.”
What will Yocum be doing in 10 years?
“I envision myself working at a hospital and taking care of everyone I see in the emergency room,” she answered. “I would like to buy some property and build my own house right outside of the city.”
Yocum hopes to see the return of some activities available during her youth to the community, including “the swim team.”
“It would be cool to see some things come back so there will be more activities for the kids,” she said.
“When I am older, I would like to return to the community a couple days a week to help out at the clinic.”
Ortiz, the child of Brad and Tiffany Ortiz, the grandchild of Pilar and Vickie Lechuga, and Harold and Diana Ortiz, has a pair of siblings – sister Trysten and brother Blake.
A four-year member of the Bearcats’ cheer team, including two years as captain, Ortiz was also the Student Body President and a member of the National Honor Society (President), Science Club (President), and Junior Chamber of Commerce (Vice President).
After graduation, Ortiz will attend Northern Arizona University, where she will pursue a nursing degree and “become a neonatal nurse.”
What will she miss most about high school?
“My friends, classmates, and teachers (especially Berg), and all the silly fun moments that happen every day in class,” she answered. She will not miss “all of the homework.”
Ortiz is excited to be a “Lumberjack and experience a new and exciting life in Flagstaff” in the next phase of her life.
What will Ortiz be doing in 10 years?
“Graduated from NAU, being a neonatal nurse, and giving back to my community as much as I can,” she responded.
During the next 10 years in the community, Ortiz wants to see “more support in the community and people helping each other out with a smiling face, and more opportunities and events for the town to come together.”
She added that Buzzy’s Drive-In would make her return to the community in adulthood.
The return of this trio, and the entire Ray High School Class of 2020, will always be welcome in and around Kearny.