White gowns and caps, gold tassels, and various colorful leis adorned San Andreas High School students during their graduation Wednesday, June 6 at the Veterans Memorial Building.
Among the 39 students that received a diploma Wednesday afternoon was Trinity Rocco, who plans to attend Gavilan College or Carrington College in San Jose to pursue a career in dental hygiene.
Rocco said she graduated early because she completed credits through online independent study in her one year at San Andreas High School. She also said she was very proud of her accomplishment and enjoyed her time on campus.
“When I was actually going to class it was fun,” Rocco said. “Everybody is funny.”
Rocco walked with her other classmates through about 200 friends and family members that attended the ceremony to commemorate the graduates.
The event began with Principal Charles Oles introducing staff. County Superintendent of Schools Krystal Lomanto also took the podium to congratulate the graduates as well as the families because she said it “takes a village” to raise young adults.
Board of Education President Joan Campbell-Garcia complemented Lomanto’s message by saying, “For me, the most important thing to remember…is to become the kind of person you want to be.”
Oles also directed a message to the graduates of what they can take from their experiences and how to apply it for the future.
“You know what struggle looks like,” Oles said. “And ultimately proved to everyone around you that you could accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
Before the presentation of the diplomas, two students received scholarships. Sergio Nieto Cosio was awarded the Rotary Scholarship of $500 and Phillip Garcia the Nick Lust Memorial Scholarship of $300.
The ceremony continued with the school’s tradition of allotting time for students to speak. Four students spoke from prepared remarks, all of which reflected on the recurring theme of adversity.
One of those students was Andrew Flores. He spoke about being “locked-up” as the worst and best thing he has experienced. He also said he doesn’t want this part of his life to end, but everybody needs to face it whether they want to or not.
After the ceremony, Flores said other obstacles he faced were depression and anxiety. He said he believed he was never going to graduate, but his parents, his ex girlfriend, and the school staff, especially Dr. Anne-Marie Faria, encouraged, supported, and pushed him to the finish line.
Flores’ father, Arthur Flores, said his son faced a lot of challenges mostly because of poor decisions, but is proud of his accomplishment. He said he was also glad he decided to go to trade school.
Flores said he was excited to start the next phase of his life after attending San Andreas for four years. He plans to enroll at Center for Employment Training (CET) in San Jose to become an HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) technician.
Another proud parent congratulating his son, Kameron Elliott, outside the building was Kenny Elliott. It was an emotional afternoon for Kenny watching his son graduate.
“Super proud,” Kenny said. “This is what I wanted for him. I didn’t graduate, I wanted him to graduate.”
Jennifer Porteur, Kameron’s step-mom, said he worked very hard to be where he is and they are proud of him. She also acknowledged the school staff for all the work they put into helping Kameron graduate.
Kameron said he was nervous and was glad it was done. He said he hasn’t thought about college too much, but his goal for now is to “find a better job than what I have and then work from there.”
Graduation was a special day for Principal Oles as well. He took the position of principal in August 2017, making this his first graduation as the school’s leader. Prior to taking the position, he said he had been a teacher for 20 years.
Before the ceremony, Principal Oles said the 2018 class was filled with remarkable, capable young adults.
“We have a lot of our students that keep carrying on the torch of excellence and greatness, and become active members of our community and become productive members of our society,” Oles said.