Santa Paula Times

(Top photo) Santa Paula High School handed out 307 diplomas in ceremonies held last week on Jones Field. (Bottom photo) Among the first to walk onto Jones Field for Santa Paula High School graduation ceremonies are (left) Valedictorian Carolyn Salas and (right) Justin Macias. (Photos by Brian D. Wilson)

Santa Paula High School graduates 307 seniors

June 13, 2012
Santa Paula High School

Santa Paula High School handed out 307 diplomas in ceremonies held last week on Jones Field.

Valedictorian Carolyn Salas, the daughter of Tony and Irene Salas, noted the Class of 2012 was the first to receive their diplomas on the new field. “This is our privilege and ours alone,” she said. “There is not another class more deserving of this opportunity.”

Salas told her classmates that, for the past four years, SPHS has been like a home away from home. “The teachers here today have been like second parents to us. Their jobs could not have been easy since they had to deal with all of us. But we thank you for never giving up on us. You have prepared us for our lives after high school.” She singled out teacher Ed Arguelles, who has retired after 36 years as a teacher at Santa Paula High.

She also thanked parents: “Our parents have raised the best class Santa Paula High School has ever seen.” Salas said the senior class has become a family, and even though they are sad to leave, “We all have many great memories together.”

She told the seniors: “We have finished high school. We have completed everything necessary to graduate. For most of us this includes the art of procrastination. But I tell you this, after today it will no longer matter how great or even how bad your GPA was. After today all that matters is what you do with your life. Everyone is starting a clean slate.”

She also congratulated the six salutatorians: Edward Alamillo, Gustavo Castillo, Antonio Cisneros, Sabrina Espino, Sunderlin Jackson and Erica Preciado. “I would like to personally congratulate every one of you,” she said. “I know it was not easy.”

Senior Class President Hayden McClain told the gathering that, looking back at his life and at high school, all he sees is unfulfilled potential. “I’ve spent my life knowing how good I could be, but settling and being content with less because it was the easier thing to do…. Well, you know what? I’m tired of settling. I’m tired of being someone I’m not. I want to be me.”

McClain added that we all make mistakes and nobody is perfect. He also said, “It’s not about the mistakes you make. It’s not about how you fail. It’s about how you come back and succeed after falling flat on your face. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, only how many times you get back up.” He also told his class that when you look back at your life, don’t regret a single thing about it. “Dwelling on negative things in life won’t get you anywhere.”

ASB President Jasmine Cardenas thanked her mother for being supportive. She also thanked her classmates for sharing an amazing four years together, and added, “Thank you to all the parents, grandparents, family and friends for the support and encouragement you have given us through this rite of passage. Thank you to the school board, administration, teachers and staff for challenging and guiding us.”

Cardenas noted they have transformed as students, athletes and young adults. “But, our journey of transformation is not over…. As we reflect on the past it is important to look at our accomplishments and be proud of what we have done.” She added, “What counts is not the person you are or what decisions you make in front of a crowd, but the person you are and the decisions you choose when no one is around, when no one is looking.”

First-year principal Elizabeth Garcia congratulated the Class of 2012, noting they were the 122nd class to graduate from SPHS. “Many of you are the first in your families to graduate high school,” she said. “Others of you will be the second, third, fourth generations and beyond where graduating high school is but a mere expectation in your life and there was never a doubt that you’d be seated before me today. But no matter how you’ve arrived here today, know that at some point in your family’s history sacrifices have been made for you, someone shouldering the burdens of your success. Graduates, let me challenge you today: What now? Have you arrived at your destination or are we writing your story as we speak – ink bleeding onto your manuscript of life.”

She told the graduating class that resting on their laurels or to think they have arrived would not be wise. “There is so much to be done! It is your generation and we are relying on your ingenuity and creativity that will take on the challenges of our world today. The size and the scope of these challenges is immense. Nevertheless, we expect that you will fulfill this calling. Do not neglect your responsibility! Our future is in your hands, graduates.”