This story is part of a series of profiles the Ventura County Office of Education is presenting about outstanding graduating seniors in the Class of 2023.
Dillon May doesn’t hesitate when asked about the biggest challenge he faced during his four years at Moorpark High School. “Definitely the pandemic was a tough one, being locked up for all of that time,” he says. “Especially during high school when it’s supposed to be the most fun years of your life.”
Dillon was a freshman when the coronavirus began spreading so rapidly that classrooms were forced to shut down. The closures were originally expected to last a matter of weeks but ended up being much longer than that. “My whole sophomore year, I was online. I didn’t step foot on campus,” he says. A large portion of Dillon’s high school experience was at home in front of a computer screen instead of on campus with all of the activities and social interactions that usually define the high school years.
When the pandemic began to subside and students returned to campus, Dillon made up for lost time. He played on the baseball team, enrolled in the school’s Health Sciences Academy and got involved in student government events. He also made it a priority to take advantage of the support and wisdom of the adults who work at his school.
One of them was Scott Fullerton, who recently stepped down after nearly 30 seasons as Moorpark’s head baseball coach. “He made sure it wasn’t just baseball we were learning, but lessons we could use in life,” Dillon says of his coach. “That definitely made me a big part of who I am today.” The biggest lesson Dillon took from Coach Fullerton was not to be afraid to try, even if you don’t succeed. “He taught us that failure should really be welcomed instead of fearing it and how we can learn from it.”
Dillon also made an effort to get to know his principal, Zaid Bakoo. While most students try to steer clear of the principal’s office, Dillon would regularly stop by to chat about school issues and life in general. It’s something he was motivated to do because his father is a high school principal. “I could tell how much it means to him to have a connection with his students,” Dillon says. “I tried to have the same relationship with a lot of the adults at my school because it goes a long way. You can learn a lot from people who have been through more life than you.”
Dillon will be attending Moorpark College this fall. He plans to transfer to a university in two years and pursue a career in real estate. More than any other, Dillon’s graduating class was impacted by the pandemic. While it drastically altered their high school experience, it also showed them they can face the often unexpected challenges of life and still achieve success.