Friends and relatives honored the graduates of San Benito High School District’s adult school, dressed in caps and gowns, at a June 6 ceremony held in the courtyard of Hollister High School’s campus.
The Class of 2023 graduates are Brianna Barajas, Bryan Garza, Doris Gallo Flores, Sayra Jazmin Hernandez Valdez, Noehmi Linares, Nicholas Scott Marchetti, Alvaro Ortiz, Alex A.M. Quezada and Aransha Velasco, says a press release from the district.
SBHSD Coordinator of Career and College Readiness Claire Grissom called the ceremony “a day of immense pride and joy for all of us as we witness the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and perseverance.”
She told the graduates that they “have faced countless challenges, both inside and outside the classroom, and have emerged victorious.”
Grissom recognized the support each of the graduates received from their teachers, parents and families before reminding the diploma recipients, “This is only the beginning of your journey. The future holds countless opportunities and challenges, and it is up to you to embrace them with open arms. Whether you choose to pursue higher education, enter the workforce, or follow your passion in other ways, always reflect on the lessons you have learned. Embrace lifelong learning, remain adaptable in the face of change and continue to strive for excellence in everything you do.”
Hollister adult education instructor Charles Rush told the graduates that he knows it can be challenging to “find the motivation and perseverance to keep fighting for a better future. I believe the key to staying motivated and moving forward one step at a time is to believe that it is possible for us to achieve our goals and our dreams.”
He added, “We just use our past experiences to transform ourselves into an intellectual responsible man or woman.”
Rush said that while believing in ourselves can be our greatest challenge, it can also be our greatest accomplishment.
Graduation speaker Nicholas Marchetti, who received his diploma at the ceremony, said, “Each one of us is here with a different reason, but with the same goal: to obtain a piece of paper and the accomplishment of graduating high school.”
He thanked the staff and school for their help and reflected on how this was his fourth attempt to earn his diploma, even though he works as a security operations manager for a tech company in Silicon Valley, according to the SBHSD press release.
He remembered that on Nov. 5, 2021, “swallowing that fear and pride,” he reached out to Alternative Education Specialist Sharon Finley for guidance on how to obtain his high school diploma, “explaining my fear, embarrassment and long-term procrastination.” She was the “perfect person, at the perfect place, and the perfect time, to guide me through this process,” serving as a compassionate advocate and supporter.
Commuting three hours a day “and going through major life changes” made the prospect of classes and homework daunting, but Marchetti said that despite his doubts, “Luckily, I was blessed with some very patient teachers and most importantly, humans, with understanding of all my challenges.”
He specifically thanked Rush for his guidance, positivity and faith.
“He pushed me; never allowed me to give up hope,” Marchetti recalled, offering three things to take away from his experience returning to school to earn a diploma: “It’s always OK to ask for help; it’s never too late; and never give up on yourself.”