‘GO FORTH TO SERVE’
“Always remember. Once a Saint, always a Saint!” Associated Student Body President Cristina Delgad-Vega said to 540 Santa Maria High School graduates clad in red gowns and caps at the start of the ceremony.
This would be something repeated throughout the hour long ceremony, with “past speaker” Sarae Ramirez remarking, “don’t at me for this, but once a Saint, always a Saint!”
Supporting the Saints were their parents, loved ones and friends, who waved signs, blew air horns and shouted their love and support for the graduates. The air horns would become a common cacophony, with their shrill noise reinforcing the applause after each speech and student receiving their diploma.
The speakers, such as “future speaker” Matthew Clayton, thanked their parents, teachers, the faculty members and others for mentoring, teaching and encouraging them to pursue their dreams.
“Just remember; those who lose dreaming are lost! Like our school archway says, the one we’ve been walked under for the last four years, enter to learn, go forth to serve. We came here for a purpose Saints, we came here to learn and now we are going forth to continue this purpose. To serve this world by making it a better place!” Clayton said to the roar of his fellow graduates.
Saul Martinez was the “past” and “present speaker” in Spanish, where he congratulated the class for completing high school. Saul told the crowd that he was born in the United States and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico before coming back to the United States in 2015 and had to learn “el English” when he started to attend Santa Maria High.
“I first remember the first day of Santa Maria,” he said. “I thought this day would never arrive. Now I look back and the first day seemed like it was yesterday.”
He congratulated the graduating class with vigor and told them they had overcome obstacles.
“Porque hemos vencido!” he told the crowd, which roughly means “we have overcome.”
The valedictorian, Isabella Blanco, highlighted everyone who helped the graduates, such as their “mentors, family members, and friends” and thanked her mother and father.
“I firmly believe in the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child,” she said.
Isabella also advised the graduating class to remember their roots and where they came from.
“I urge each and every one of you to remember your roots,” Isabella said during the ceremony. “You’re a Saint and a Santa Marian! The issues that affect this community don’t come to a halt when you leave for college. They continue on! It is our job as young adults to be those changemakers!”
Isabella also made a fiery and passionate ovation to Santa Maria and its inhabitants.
“We’re from Santa Maria! We have faced opposition and triumphed! Our resilience is built on the fruit of our ancestors who have come before us! And our work ethic is modeled after our hard-working parents who sacrificed everything to make our dreams a reality!”
The salutatorian, Sindy Valle Davila, also echoed the theme of remembering roots and urged her fellow graduates to not let failure tar their journeys and goals.
“Turn all your obstacles into opportunities!”
The senior officers of the 2019 class presented the senior class gift, which was $6,400 to help refurbish the logo on the administration building.
Interim Principal Steven Campbell highlighted the accomplishments of the graduating class. Santa Maria High had more seniors accepted to “prestigious” California universities than any other high school in the Santa Maria district. The seniors also had the highest math scores for the state Smarter Balanced exams.
Other accomplishments included the lowest amount of suspensions ever, 11 CIF league qualifications, seven league titles, one CIF championship, one CIF runner-up, 42 individual all-league athletes and 212 scholar athletes.
The Future Farmers of America (FFA) also won two state championships, including two FFA individual champions.
“I know once a Saint…always a Saint,” Mr. Campbell said.
Saul Salcido Lopez was presented by Dr. Mark Richardson with a perfect attendance award. He had not missed a single day of school throughout 13 years of attendance, which was 2,340 days overall.
As the names were called students were thankful, nervous and excited to complete their secondary education journey. Meyevelyn Escobar was “extremely nervous” about graduating, but has post-graduate plans to go to Allan Hancock College.
“I plan on becoming a medical assistant,” she said to the News-Press.
The other post-graduation plans of these graduates differ. Many will attend Allan Hancock College, while others will go to UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Berkeley. A few will go to CSU Channel Islands, such as Vanessa Mata, who will be majoring in pre-nursing.
“I was really excited to graduate,” she said, smiling brightly. “I’m going to celebrate with my friends and families.”
And still others will walk a different path. Jeremiah Rios will be going to bible college in order to become a preacher. Jeremiah thanked God and his family when he spoke to the News-Press.
“I’m thankful to God, my family…especially my mom. Thank you for believing in me.”