Renaissance High School celebrated with graduation ceremonies last Wednesday, graduating 46 seniors.

Renaissance High School graduates
46 students in ceremony

June 18, 2014
Santa Paula News

Renaissance High School celebrated with graduation ceremonies last Wednesday, graduating 46 seniors. Another 29 students had transferred back to the Santa Paula High School campus and graduated with that class.

Principal Dr. Robin Gillette said the graduates were moving on because of the hard work and dedication of all the educators and support staff. She also credited the support of parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles for their success. “To all of you I wish to say thank you with the greatest gratitude in my heart,” she added. “You have no idea how much all of your support means to me, our staff and our students.”

Anays Magana gave the senior speech to the gathering in the Santa Paula High School auditorium. “We can finally say we did it,” she said. “Today is the day we achieve what we have been dreaming of since we were younger. Today we reach a goal that at one point seemed impossible. Today we end our long journey of 13 years of hard work.”

She said this school gave everyone in her class hope. “This school taught me all there is to know,” she added. “It taught me that there really are second chances. Renaissance got us back on track and changed our mindsets. This school has some of the best teachers who motivate us and actually care about us.”

Magana told the crowd that there is a story behind each and every one of them as to why they ended up at Renaissance. “We sometimes lose motivation to do well,” she said. “We make wrong choices. We fall behind or lose focus. We are all different.” She told her classmates that the future is now. She added, “We control our destiny, we control our lives. Don’t let anyone bring you down. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t reach your goals, because you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”

Several scholarships were given out at the event. Latino Town Hall presented two $1,000 Jess Victoria scholarships, one to Anays Magana and the other to Vanessa Gutierrez. David Gillette presented a $500 C.W. Scuitto scholarship check to Jose Ambriz on behalf of the Santa Paula Alumni Association. Jerry Burns handed a check for $500 to Maria Alonzo from the Santa Paula Education Foundation. The Association of California School Administrators, Region 13, represented by Robin Gillette and Tony Gaitan, gave a $250 first place Northern Region award to Luz Gonzales and she also received another $200 check for placing third in the Regional competition.  The awards were for a student essay competition, which included students from several other schools in Ventura County. Another essay writer, Carlos Marron, so inspired an anonymous donor, that he received a $100 check.

Principal Gillette told the gathering that the day was special for all of them. She told the staff that they had worked incredibly hard and the night was as much theirs as it was the students and parents. “Many of our students are the first in their family to graduate from high school, first to go to college, vocational school or join the military,” she added. She noted that many of the students attended school by day, held down a job at night and worked at online classes to the early morning.

“Graduation has always been considered a visual gateway to the next chapter in one’s life,” she said. “For many of us it is a time when we witness our children evolve into young adults that will become our leaders of tomorrow. It is time to come together and celebrate successes. This graduation represents an expedition that began 13 years ago when these students first entered kindergarten. It represents hard work and sacrifices that were made. These students have demonstrated great will and heart and have risen to the challenge to make it happen.”

Santa Paula Unified School District Superintendent Alfonso Gamino welcomed everyone who attended the ceremony. He said it was a special moment for him as the superintendent of the newly unified district. He told the graduates that this was a step into adulthood. “You must take that first step, however awkward and intimidating it may be, for there are positive contributions that each and every one of you can make in our society.”

Members of the school board, along with the superintendent assisted in the handing out of diplomas.

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