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Over 150 Pioneer Valley seniors commit to four-year universities

Posted at 6:21 PM, Apr 27, 2023

More than 150 Pioneer Valley High School graduating seniors have committed to four-year universities, the school said in a press release Thursday.

The Santa Maria high school hosted a celebration at noon Thursday for students on their way to UCs, CSUs and other universities.

“This makes all the hard work worth it,” Alex Hernandez, who will be attending UC Berkeley, said in the release. “I feel really appreciated.”

The celebration included a ceremony where students walked on stage and announced their name and intended university. The students were greeted with flower arrangements prepared by the school’s floral design students and enjoyed chicken sandwiches donated by Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers in Santa Maria.

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Pioneer Valley High School students at their celebration on Thursday, April 27.

School Principal Shanda Herrera said promoting a college-going culture is vital, according to the release. “We want the freshmen to look at all these seniors and say, ‘Hey, I can do that, too,’” Herrera said in the release.

The number of Pioneer Valley High School students admitted to four-year universities has been steadily increasing each year, Herrera said in an email response to KSBY. Herrera said that California’s mandate requiring high school seniors to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has helped, as it has created a general interest in post-high-school education.

The FAFSA mandate went into effect Oct. 1, 2022.

High school seniors who complete a FAFSA are 84% more likely to enroll in post-high-school education, according to the National College Attainment Network.

Herrera said it was “about an even split” between the UCs and CSUs for the school’s students.