Seniors enter the graduation ceremonies at Santa Paula High School last Friday. Photo by Don Johnson

Santa Paula High School graduates 330 seniors

June 25, 2003
Largest class ever to graduate from the high school
Santa Paula High School
By Brian D, Wilson Santa Paula TimesIt was an overcast day, but the weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the 330 members of the Class of 2003 at Santa Paula High School’s graduation ceremonies Friday.This was the largest class ever to graduate from the high school. The ceremonies opened with music from the Santa Paula High School band, under the direction of Ed Roina.Following the processional, outgoing ASB President Amanda Johnson spoke to her classmates. She told the crowd that what she learned over her four years of high school was that friendship was the most important thing. “But basically I just learned that family, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents and best friends are the most important people in the world,” she said. “And without them we wouldn’t be who we are today, so though we may not always say it or show it, this is a thank you to all the families and friends for their love and support and for always being there.”Salutatorian Nick Colvard quoted Winston Churchill from something he said during the London bombings in World War II, “Never give up, never give up, never give up.” Colvard used that quote to challenge his fellow graduates. “We are all molded and shaped by the experiences and roadblocks that life throws in our path,” Colvard told the crowd. “Victory is only achieved if we don’t look back to find another path, but if we persevere and overcome to attain greatness. Great people were not born great. They became great by making a decision to pursue their dreams in life and by refusing to give up. The struggle we must all face on the road to our dreams is what makes us great. Ordinary people can become extraordinary if they dedicate their lives to the pursuit of their dreams.”Colvard said he didn’t expect everyone to become brain surgeons or discover life on Mars, but he did challenge his classmates to reach for the stars. “I know that can sound very typical or conventional in a graduation speech, but if we all strive to the perfection of ourselves it will only better the community in which you live,” Colvard added. “Remember to thank your family and friends, all they wish for you is success, so acknowledge them. Remember your teachers and instructors; they love to see you thrive in your gifts and talents. Have courage in obtaining your dreams. Action is the proof of courage. Having the heart to choose your course of action will only push you to obtaining your goals.”Sandra Magana was the valedictorian this year. Her speech was brief but inspirational. She said she couldn’t forget all the teachers who put their heart and soul into teaching. “I will forever be in debt to you,” she said. “Some of you have made a great impact in my life, and it is true there are still some teachers out there who care. To my friends, I can’t forget about you. We’ve been practically together since we were in Barbara Webster. A million thanks for making this an unforgettable four years of my life and don’t ever forget about the ‘bench’.”
Magana said their high school years have ended and now they must venture into the “real world.” “We will all be heading our own way to do what is best for our futures, whether it be going to a University, community college, trade school, or simply getting a job,” said Magana. “We are all heading in a different path and away from each other and tonight I want to take the opportunity and wish the class of 2003 great luck in all their endeavors and just remember that the sky is the limit.”Senior Class President Brenda Vega had some thoughtful comments. She said it was a privilege to be able to say a few words to the gathering. “When the door of happiness closes another one opens,” she said. “But often time times we so long at the closed door that we don’t notice the one that has been opened for us all along. The majority of the times there are opportunities right in front of us and we don’t even realize it. Opportunities are never lost. Someone will always take the ones you miss.”Principal Tony Gaitan congratulated the graduates. “Your accomplishments and achievements are to be recognized and honored tonight,” Gaitan said. “Graduation is a special time and a great memory for you. This is a time to celebrate the sacrifices and accomplishments you and your families have made over the last four years.” He encouraged the graduates to continue their studies in order to open doors in the future. Gaitan noted that 100 seniors applied to four-year universities and 70 were accepted. And he said that 90 percent of the class would go on to some type of continuing education.Retiring Superintendent Dr. William Brand addressed his last graduation. “I commend Mr. Gaitan, the faculty and staff and administration for their efforts in supporting this class in attaining their diplomas this evening,” he said. Gaitan took a few moments after the ceremonies to hand an honorary diploma to Dr. Brand and thanked him for his service to the district.

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