SAN BERNARDINO — Thursday was certainly “a great day to be a bulldog” for the graduates of Oak Hills High School, who make up one of the High Desert’s largest graduating classes.

A total of 566 seniors started across the San Manuel Amphitheater stage as students and finished as graduates Thursday evening, becoming Oak Hills’ 6th graduating class.

The Bulldog family’s class of 2016 wasn’t one to stick to just traditions, however. For the first time in the school’s history, a full 100 percent of the students have stated their intention to continue their education after high school.

“The amount of seniors planning to go to any type of post high school education — four year, two year, trade school or military — 100 percent!” OHHS Career Center Specialist Diane Rodriguez said. “Each year we have seniors who say they are going straight to work ... this year, all have said some type of post-high school education.”

This unanimous focus on advancement is also what earned the class a long list of accomplishments in their high school career, according to Principal Larry Porras.

“This year OHHS set a new record,” Porras said. “Twelve student athletes received full-ride scholarships and this year we won five Mojave River League titles. … We won the district’s first CIF title in football in a game the Daily Press called ‘the biggest football game in High Desert history.’”

The school’s successes will remain fond memories to Porras, as the class of 2016 is the last under his leadership as principal. He will be taking up a position with the Hesperia Unified School District instead, but his students wanted to let him know that he will be missed at Oak Hills.

“There’s no denying the love, care and support you have toward your students,” graduate Anam Farooqui said to Porras in her speech. “It has been an honor to have you as our principal.”

The class speakers of the commencement were consistent in mentioning the Expected School-Wide Learning Results that Porras and the rest of the staff at OHHS has instilled in them: Integrity, community and excellence.

“From what I know of this class, I see nothing but potential,” Farooqui said. Encouraging her classmates in their next steps, she advised them to “dive into curiosity, expand your grasp and continue to grow.”

The class’s three valedictorians — Tyler Caldwell, Alexis Vela and Mason Portales — are well on their way to further growth, each graduating with above a 4.0 grade point average and having been accepted into four-year colleges. After accepting their honor on stage, accompanied by their parents, Caldwell returned to address his fellow graduates.

Caldwell thanked Porras for his years of service at OHHS and went on to say that it was easy to understand why he’d be leaving — “he saved the best class for his last class.”

“As for the class of 2016, we all owe each other one giant thank you for all the memories we made together during our time at Oak Hills,” Caldwell said. “... No matter where you are in life, through the highs and the lows, just remember it will always be a great day to be a bulldog.”

Charity Lindsey may be contacted at 760-951-6231 or Follow her on twitter @DP_Charity.