SBHS graduates step toward future

Graduation Day

San Benito High School students marched across the grass in red and white gowns as they prepared to cross a stage, pick up diplomas and begin a new chapter of life.
“It’s a big leap toward my life,” said Eros Molina, 18, who added that college dorms would be his first time living on his own.
Seniors graduating from the high school go on to start jobs, join the military, or attend community colleges and four-year universities. This year’s graduates faced their share of challenges this school year including the resignation of Principal Todd Dearden and a failed senior graduation trip.
Student speakers made multiple jokes about the senior trip, which was canceled after teenagers became sick while on the way to Disneyland, something the health department credited to a viral illness and students attributed to a celebratory tri-tip meal the day before the event. Senior Class President Danielle Casas praised students for “looking really good, even when the beef is questionable.”
But the big theme of the ceremony seemed to be gratitude. Superintendent John Perales addressed parents in Spanish and English. He also told graduates not to give up on their dreams and encouraged them to take their position as the world’s next leaders.
“I’m very proud of you,” Perales said. “Congratulations and may God bless you.”
Principal Adrian Ramirez, who replaced Dearden, gave his first congratulatory address to students at the commencement ceremony. He thanked parents, family and friends in Spanish and English for chaperoning events, consoling students through their first high school heartbreak, and driving forgotten homework projects to school. He complimented students for handling the year with poise, despite some unfortunate events, he said.
“To the class of 2016, standing in front of you is one proud principal,” he said. “This year has been quite the adventure.”
New touches to this year’s ceremony included the interpretation of speeches and songs in American Sign Language. The stage background was also more generic this year, a choice the school made so that the banner could be used by future graduating classes. The top 10 academic performers of the senior class were also recognized with special biographies and applause, another new change for the ceremony. Among the graduates was Rebecca Cartelli, a standout drum major, who plans to study chemical engineering in college. Cartelli was recognized for being one of the top academic seniors in her class.
As the temperature approached 90 degrees, graduate Ely Sernas, 17, carried a gallon bottle of water in preparation for the warm weather.
“I go to class every day with one of these,” he said.
For Sernas, the ceremony was especially meaningful. His mom, dad, brother, uncles and cousins were in the audience waiting to watch a historic moment for their family.
“I’m the first one in my family to graduate from this high school,” he said.
Sernas, who was an outside linebacker on the high school football team, plans to be a walk-on for California State University, Sacramento’s team and to earn a degree to make his family proud, he said.
As Valedictorian Logan Soward addressed the crowd, the graduate pretended to be the event’s emcee and told the audience to check under their seats, where they would find nothing but half empty water bottles. But the speech turned serious when Soward told classmates the greatest success they could hope for in life couldn’t be measured by the money they would make, or the car they would drive, later in life.
“The greatest success we’ll find in our lives is happiness. Find something that makes you happy and do it. And it’s perfectly acceptable if it doesn’t become your career,” Soward said. “Keep doing what you love and keep finding those things in your life that make life worth living.”
Top 10 academic seniors
Logan Sowards-Valedictorian
Isabella Arreola-Salutatorian
Esdras Aleman Sanchez
Logan Randle
Patrick Murphy
Charles Walker
Violet Lingenfelter / Rebecca Cartelli
Mitchell Osborn
Carly Coelho
Karen Yulissa Ramos Lupercio
Source: SBHS graduation program

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