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KINGSBURG – In their last few minutes as middle school students, the Rafer Johnson Junior High eighth-graders were feeling a mix of emotions. As they buzzed about in the Kingsburg High gym, some shed tears of sadness, while others joked with friends as they readied for their June 6 promotion ceremony.

Especially nervous were the student speakers, including Abigail Ramirez. She was motivated to deliver one of the student addresses as a way to say ‘thank you’ to all those who’ve given her support to reach this goal, she said.

“I’m thanking my classmates, teachers and parents for all their support. They’re the major influence in my life. I wouldn’t be able to be here if it weren’t them.”

While Ramirez said she’s eager to continue taking AVID classes at Kingsburg High, she’ll miss the support she’s received at Rafer Johnson.

“I’ll miss all the chances we get. Entering high school, we’re not going to be able to make as many mistakes. There’s going to be more pressure, especially if we have a lot of higher goals to reach.”

Ramirez has a long-term goal of attending the University of California, Los Angeles, and becoming a neonatal nurse.

“I’ve always loved to work with babies, so I want to become a neonatal nurse. I’d like to go to UCLA. We visited that college in AVID, and I liked everything about it.”

Her speech that evening was foremost on her mind, though, and Ramirez said she memorized it to prepare but was still a bit nervous.

“I’m just going to believe in myself. I’ve made it this far and I’ve got so much more to go.”

Just moments before the students walked out of the gym as middle schools for the last time, Principal Bobby Rodriguez borrowed some advice for the school’s namesake to encourage them as they moved on to Kingsburg High.

“Like Rafer Johnson said, ‘Be the best you can be.’”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or

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