The first graduating class of 2012 for the Sweetwater Union High School District received diplomas Tuesday morning at Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre.
More than 670 Chula Vista High School Spartans were named in the program, including graduates from independent study, adult education and the district’s bounce back program.
Chula Vista High principal Steven Lizarraga said it’s through hard work and resiliency that the students made it to this point.
“Chula Vista High School has a long history of success,” he said. “As you leave here, you will find a world of promise and also many more challenges to overcome.”
Sweetwater board president Pearl Quinones delivered an encouraging speech for the class of 2012.
“Their (counselors and teachers) excellence shines through your accomplishments,” she told them. “If you remember anything I said today, remember this: You are the author of your own life. Write your own story.”
Co-valedictorian Fernando Pacheco graduated with a 4.4 GPA as a California Scholarship Federation member. He was accepted into the University of California, Los Angeles, where he will study medicine.
Pacheco, 18, said in 10 years he hopes to have graduated from medical school and will return to Chula Vista to work.
Students will go on to schools including the University of California San Diego, UCLA, UC Irvine, San Diego State University and Vanguard.
Graduate Irma Acuna, 18, got into Cal State San Marcos and said she will study communications to become a TV anchor.
“In 10 years, I see myself either in Mexican news or in Miami with my own reality TV show,” she said.
During graduations this week, recall petitions for district board members Arlie Ricasa, Jim Cartmill and John McCann were distributed by community activist group Occupy Sweetwater, which includes teachers and members of the public.
The petitions are a consequence of the corruption and scandal facing some district officials and contractors for participating in a pay-to-play culture.
At the ceremony Tuesday evening for Mar Vista High in Imperial Beach, nearly all graduates stood up and turned their backs to speaker Cartmill once he walked to the podium.
According to media sources, the group effort was a protest aimed at administrators and elected officials who have chosen to lay off teachers.
Earlier this month, board members voted 3-2 to issue pink slips to some 200 teachers, counselors and librarians to help balance the district’s potential $27 million budget deficit.
During an interview with 10News, Cartmill said that he was disappointed that some “extremist union members” would use their students as pawns.
Mar Vista alumni Jesse Michel attended his nephew’s graduation Tuesday in Imperial Beach.
“I didn’t know why they did it at first,” he said. “But I think it was good. It brought to their (the administration) attention that the students care.”
A total of 5,988 students graduated from 13 high schools in the school district this year.
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