CATHEDRAL CITY – Thousands of high school seniors in the Coachella Valley will be graduating this month, but some are leaving their mark.
Jay Thetford, a Cathedral City High School senior, will have a street named after him Thursday morning. The street is located at the corner of Date Palm and Ortega Road. Currently, it is named after Michael Picasso, last year’s winner.
“My mom likes to brag about me a lot, which makes me uncomfortable,” Chetford says.
Can you blame his mom? After all, it is not an everyday occurrence that a street is named after a person.
Every year, Cathedral City High School seniors compete for the Golden Lion award. The staff and faculty vote on who receives the street honor.
Chetford’s band director Greg Whitmore isn’t surprised by the win.
“Jay Thetford is the quintessential band student. He totally understands how to be a good student and how to be a good person.”
But “good” doesn’t do Jay justice. His astronomical GPA — a 4.7 — makes him more “sharp.”
Last year’s winner Michael Picasso ended up attending Stanford University. Thetford got accepted into four University of California schools: Davis, Berkeley, San Diego, and Irvine.
Thetford picked Berkeley. He plans to major in bioengineering.
Thetford will be delivering his valedictorian speech at next week’s graduation. He aims to inspire. He says he believes his generation can make a difference. But, before taking on the world, he is convinced one needs to leave his or her mark in high school.
“You can’t let anyone else be your motivation to getting good grades. You have to do it for yourself,” he explains. “My parents never bribed me or got down on me too hard. It was all for myself, really.”
Other students in Cathedral City being honored with street names: James Hendricks of Calvary Christian School and Marisela Madrigal from Mount San Jacinto High School.
Hendricks will be graduating first in his class and plans to attend Jacksonville Baptist College in Texas.
Madrigal will enter the fall semester at College of the Desert. Her profession goal is to become an adoption counselor.