After an entire school year in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Last year’s drive-through graduation events are being replaced with in-person ceremonies – some of them even held indoors.
Like the class of 2020 before them, high school students in the graduating class of 2021 have shown incredible resilience and perseverance throughout the pandemic. They’ve adapted to distance learning and social distancing and the strange realities of returning to school during a global health emergency.
Through it all, they’ve not only survived but thrived and impressed us all beyond belief. As Ventura County’s new Superintendent of Schools, I’m honored to have this opportunity to introduce you to just a few of our outstanding graduating seniors in this edition of Focus on Education.
Dr. César Morales
Ventura County Superintendent of Schools
Andres Casas - Moorpark High School
When Andres Casas started feeling unusual pain in his legs during his freshman year, he never could have imagined it was cancer. He was young and healthy and loved being a sprinter on the track team at Moorpark High School.
Maria Oregel Lopez - Oxnard High School
Imagine four students attending class remotely on their computers from the same small hotel room for a month. That was the reality for Maria Oregel Lopez and her siblings after a fire displaced her family.
Alex Edgar - Royal High School
While many Americans are turned off by the divisive state of our nation’s politics, Alex Edgar is trying to do something about it. “Maybe we don't have to be told that things are this way because they’ve always been this way, and we can actually work to change them,” he says.
Bella Francisco - Westlake High School
Some students give back to their communities by providing holiday gifts for families in need. Others volunteer at animal shelters or for blood drives. And others join community recycling campaigns to help the environment. Bella Francisco, a graduating senior from Westlake High School, has done all of those things and more.
George Mooradian - Fillmore High School
Per Aspera Ad Astra is Latin for “through hardship to the stars,” and Fillmore High School senior George Mooradian says it’s an ideal description of his life.
Carissa Llamas - Triton Academy
Carissa Llamas has a bright smile that lights up the room. She’s a confident speaker who has no trouble expressing herself. And she also has autism.
Carlos Alcantar - Buena High School
Carlos Alcantar has a lot to celebrate. In addition to graduating as Buena High School’s valedictorian with a 4.75 grade point average and being accepted to Stanford University, he also recently became a US citizen.