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June 14, 2021

Teens set out for ‘Big American Dreams’ at graduation

The 630 San Benito High School students who gathered in the Mattson gym Friday morning bustled with excitement as they prepared to walk out onto the playing fields for graduation. Many of the students reminisced about their favorite parts of high school, but most of them were already looking toward what the future holds.

The theme for graduation this year was “Small town teens – Big American Dreams” and the students themselves were more than happy to share their dreams with others at the ceremony.

“I’m most excited to see everyone graduate,” said Senior Sydnee Vega. “We know we accomplished one more thing and we will move on to bigger and better things.”

Vega has plans to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo next fall.

“A good handful of us are going there and I hope we can keep in touch,” she said, as she lined up with her fellow students before the ceremony began.

Nick Vargas said his favorite thing about San Benito High School is that he liked the people.

“I’m looking forward to being done and getting my diploma,” said the senior who has plans to attend University of California, Santa Cruz to major in computer science.

Principal Krystal Lomanto used her remarks as a way to share many of the dreams students are planning after graduation. For her speech, she asked many students to share with her how growing up in a small town is helping them achieve their dreams.

“Many are leaving for prestigious colleges with full-ride scholarships,” she said. “They may be small town, but they are achieving big things.”

Jezza May Lopez sang the national anthem. Valerie Garcia sang “All I Want is Everything” before the senior address, with Madison Donovan singing “Gold” while Troy Donovan played keyboard before the principal’s address. Teachers Catalina Lemos and Chuck Schallhorn served as masters of ceremonies, while Becky Bonner and Derek Barnes served as grand marshals.

The morning ceremony was marked by a lot of bragging, both by the students who gave speeches as well as the faculty members who talked about them. The class touted the number of CCS championships earned as well as the number of seniors who graduated with a grade-point average of 4.0 or higher.

The class of 2013 topped the record for high achievers with 42 students earning a 4.0 or higher.

“The class of 2013 is really, really smart and devastatingly good looking,” said Senior Class President Nicole Huxtable in her senior address.

She started off her speech with a mash-up of the Robert Frost poem “A Road Not Taken” and rapper Drake’s “Started from the Bottom.”

The graduation was marked by remembrances of students with unique talents, such as a young man who came on stage to do the splits and another who showed he could lick his elbow as he received an award for being one of the top 10 academic students on campus, for those with the highest GPAs.

Isabella Diaz, the Associated Student Body president, talked about the memories students had made through the years.

“Ten years from now when I’ve graduated college and maybe started a family, what will I say when I am asked about high school?” she asked.

Diaz said she would remember the feeder school assemblies, a program in which “hot-looking guys in uniforms, some cheerleaders and other students” visited with middle school students to share with them how to get involved when they come to the high school.

She also recalled the high school benefit drive – especially for Diana Magana, a classmate who suffered from leukemia before passing away in 2012.

“We’ve become a big, caring high school,” Diaz said.

She said she thought the students would remember all the activities on campus more than the classes they took.

“We grew up being small town teens and now we are ready to move on to big American dreams,” she said. “I want you all to remember life is what we make of it.”

Sunny Singh served as salutatorian this year. He told his fellow students to walk as a thank you to all the people who helped them get to graduation.

“I walk for my parents and sister and all of you guys,” he said. “You made my high school experience a great one. There is no doubt in my mind we will move on to great things.”

Valedictorian Anita Chen, who said her future plans include becoming a doctor, gave the last speech before the students received their diplomas.

“We all have bright futures as doctors, lawyers, engineers or firefighters,” she said. “We all aspire to great things, but we can’t just hope they come true. We have to go for them. We are all handed our cards and it’s up to us how we play them.”

Top Ten academic achievers:

Charles Adams

Bryan Alcorn

Anita Chen

Ricardo Esqueda

Johnray Fernandez

Maura Forbush

Robert Henderson

Rebecca Hval

Elizabeth Reikowski

Sunny Singh

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