On Thursday night, more than 500 Clovis East High School students will graduate at Lamonica Stadium. Among them a very talented group of students - some who've overcome quite a few challenges to get to where they are.
As a pair of valedictorians perfected their speeches, Thursday afternoon, and crews prepped the stadium for the school's graduation ceremony, students like Michael Brooks and Shelby Martin took some time to reflect on their four years spent at Clovis East High School.
"I loved high school. It was the best four years of my life," said Martin.
For brooks, the celebration will mark a victory in his life. When he entered Clovis East High as a sophomore two years ago, his mother was an alcoholic and suffered from bipolar disorder. Brooks stayed with a friend in order to go to school, while his mother lived under a bridge in Washington state.
"Michael Brooks is an amazing young man," said Deputy Principal Dr. Shannon Bray. "When I first met him he had the heart of a giant. He is an amazing man that has overcome a lot of obstacles in his life."
Thanks to a college readiness program for students from families with little college experience, and to two summers spent at Stanford University studying medicine, brooks is eager to further his education. And has big plans after high school.
"I got accepted to UCLA and I'll be a freshman there in the fall," said Brooks. "My major is going to be Human Biology and Society."
Brooks wants to be a trauma physician, while his classmate, Shelby Martin, eventually plans to study dance at Fresno State.
"I love dance, I figure I've been doing it my whole - life might as well pursue it," said Martin.
According to a self-reported senior survey conducted at each of the Clovis Unified high schools, 41% of students plan to attend a four year university, 45% will go to a community college, 4% will attend a vocational or technical school, 5% will join the military and another 5% will enter the workforce.