Alta Vista High School graduate Justin Johnstone gets a hug after the ceremony.
ALTA VISTA HIGH Continued from page 1
attend the College of San Mateo; and he was surely pleased at being recognized as one of the most improved students in his graduating class. But Aguilar, like many in his class, seemed most pleased that he had actually graduated, and that in the process, he had discovered a love of learning he never knew he had. When Aguilar began his high school career at Los Altos, he never expected he’d be honored come graduation time. “My grades were horrible, and so was my attendance,” he said, explaining that LAHS wasn’t the right place for him: the classes were large, he didn’t feel supported by his teachers and he was sure his peers couldn’t understand what he was dealing with in his personal life. All that changed when he made the move to Alta Vista. “After a week or so of attending Alta Vista, I saw that the personal struggle I was facing was not an uncommon thing,” Aguilar said in a speech to his fellow graduates and the parents, family and friends gathered in Spartan Theatre for the commencement.
Alta Vista High School Michael Aguilar Anthony Alvarez Ana Aviles Paris Bates Carlos Bolton Michaela Carson Alma Cruz Morales Rebecca Cruz Rene Cuevas Joyce Anne Dizon
■ Mountain View Voice ■ MountainViewOnline.com ■ June 7, 2013
Aguilar said he felt he belonged at Alta Vista, where the small classes allow teachers to spend extra time with each student, and really get to know each of their pupils. “What helped me turn around was the staff and their support,” he said. Principal Bill Pierce is very familiar with stories like these. While addressing the crowd at the beginning of the school’s graduation ceremony, he raised a box of tissue and said he wasn’t just prepared in case he started tearing up, he expected it. After the ceremony, Pierce said he thinks the Alta Vista graduation is “the best one.” With a laugh he admitted he is biased. “All these kids should never have made it,” he said. “The deck was stacked against them — some of them for a long, long time — and yet, they persevered. The thing that makes it, for me, so special is that these kids earned it. Nobody gave them anything. And so it’s much more meaningful when you understand what they’ve overcome.” Unlike many continuation schools throughout the state, where students get points simply for showing up and putting in
Jack Elsey Ruby Garcia Ana Guzman Taylor Hall Julian Hernandez Rey Hernandez Aaron Huffman JeMariah Jackson Justin Johnstone Grant Kopps Daniel Limpiado Claribel Lua Navarro Henry Lugo Ana Madriz-Nava
Matthew Marent Miguel Marsical Stephanie Masina Marissa Mason Ilse Nunez Joanne Rae Panganiban Raina Panganiban Alberto Perez Eduardo Sanchez Jennifer Serrano-Perez Jacob Shilson Benjamin Yang Christine Zrodlo
Section 1 of the June 07.2013 edition of the Mountain View Voice