Tuesday night, at San Manuel Amphitheater, Sultana High School Principal Larry Bird ticked off the accomplishments of the 460 students about to walk across the stage and graduate.


"The Class of 2011 has left a legacy that will stand the test of time," Bird told the assembled sea of Sultans, dressed in teal and white robes.


Ninety-six percent of the Class of 2011 came to class every day, making them the class with the best attendance in the school's history. The class set new academic and athletic records at the school. And, of course: "You brought back the Key! Let me repeat that: You brought back the Key!"


(The Key Game is an annual football game played against the Sultans' cross-town rival, Hesperia High School.)


"You have demonstrated that you have the greatest potential of any group that I have ever known," said Bird.


He could have been speaking explicitly about Karla Estudillo.


At 16 years old, Estudillo isn't the first student to graduate from Sultana, just the youngest. Which also makes the school's valedictorian and, along the way, she became the school's youngest ASB president.


"I've always liked school," she said, and means it: She started at age 3.


"I started learning along with other kids" she knew, "so they said 'we might as well put her in school.'"


Despite being two years younger than some of her classmates, Estudillo says that the difference in age doesn't really come out in day-to-day affairs.


"I feel like I'm the same maturity level," she said. "People are, like, 'you're too young to take this math class.' I'm, like, 'no.'"


She was, however, one of the last seniors to learn to drive.


"That was probably the only [downside]: 'Oh, you're going to ride your bike to college.'"


She'll be attending UCLA in the fall on scholarship, studying Physiological Sciences and Anthropology.


"I think I want to be a pediatric cardiologist." Estudillo's career goals are shaped by a concern for kids even younger than her. "Like, two years ago, I had a heart murmur. ... I was, like, 14, but I was really thinking 'how scared [younger kids] must be.'"


When she walked across the stage Tuesday night to receive her diploma, it was the end of one stage of her life, and the start of another -- and she can't wait.


"I'm just excited to be young [and attending college], because it helps me get on my way with my life faster."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.