Four years of work accomplished in three: Meet the juniors intent on graduating with the Class of 2022

Meet the juniors graduating with the Class of 2022.


Lilli Koch

Mariana De La Peña is currently working to complete her needed courses to graduate with the Class of 2022.

La Quinta High School, like many other high schools, offers its students the opportunity to graduate in three years instead of continuing on to their fourth year. 

This is not a well-known option as the initial thought going into high school is that a student will stay there for all four years. However, it is not impossible to get way ahead of peers and get out of school a year early. 

Starting as soon as they’re freshmen, and no later than their sophomore year of high school, students looking to cross graduation off their to-do list early must meet with the principal and counselor with a clear reason why they want to achieve this goal and a carefully thought-out plan on how they will achieve it. 

Students exploring this option must take extra classes at colleges or online to gain all necessary credits to graduate.

“Anyone who has that drive and that organization to pass those courses would definitely be a good candidate,” Elva Peña said, who is one of the counselors.

Peña knows how hard students have to work. Falling behind is very easy when students have to complete their junior and senior year in one year.

Not for these students, though.

Emma Dangleis ‘22, Mariana De La Peña ‘22 and Antanina Larchey ‘22 are the only eligible students at La Quinta High School looking forward to their early graduation. 

“Usually students who do this do the classes over the summer. I couldn’t enroll in the classes I needed,” De La Peña said. “I’m going to try for the spring classes and if that’s not possible, obviously I won’t graduate, but it’s a process.” 

While a late start for an economics and an English class signup at College of the Desert have slowed her down, De La Peña is still working as hard as she can, not letting anything stop her from getting what she wants. 

“If I take those, I will be closer,” she said.

Dangleis, however, has completed all of her extra courses; she is a senior and no longer considered a junior this school year. She made many sacrifices to be able to keep up with her work and has a well-thought-out plan for her life after high school.

Emma Dangleis ’22 is one of the juniors graduating with the Class of 2022.

“You definitely have to put the work in yourself,” Dangleis said. “It’s not something that your counselor was going to do for you.” 

Even with so much work to do, she balanced her time just right to be able to do what she loves: volunteering at her church, taking self-care days, and practicing with the school’s dance team. 

The student’s parent or guardian must also have a plan for how they will help their child stay on track. Having enormous amounts of family support is essential.

Both Dangleis and De La Pena are doing everything they need for themselves, but they also have friends and family that fully support their educational journeys.

“Life isn’t fun when you’re trying to do it alone,” Dangleis said.