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Grads celebrate milestone Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Jun 04 2011 02:49 PM

Graduation is a time when you look back on four years of fun, smile, and then acknowledge it’s time to grow up.

The graduating class of 2011 at Bonita Vista High School totaled more than 600 students Friday at Southwestern College.

The stadium was nearly packed full of proud family and friends bearing gifts of flowered leis, stuffed animals, cards and balloons. On a beautiful sunny day, the ceremony commenced just as it should: littered with navy blue caps tossed by eager new graduates.

Within the group, 39 students received international baccalaureate diplomas and will go onto prestigious universities including Dartmouth, Yale, MIT, Cornell and Stanford.

Valedictorian Zev Bimstein focused his speech to classmates on the importance of taking risks and knowing who you are. “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build wings on the way down,” he told fellow students.

Clayton Ferguson, an 18-year-old, Bonita Vista graduate is ready to move on. “I’m going into the Air Force,” he said. Ferguson plans to be in the Air Force for at least six years and become and officer.

He said the decision was an easy one to make because the military will give him money for college and he will also be able to serve his country. “When I get into college I want to major in environmental engineering,” he said.

Ferguson’s mother Cynthia said seeing her son graduate is bitter sweet. “It’s an exciting and proud moment for me,” she said. “As a parent, it’s interesting to see your child move onto a new chapter of their life.”

Clayton is her first of three children to graduate from high school.

Isabella Hampsten, 18, smiled when she thought about all she was leaving behind. She wants to major in music and sang in the school’s all-girl’s show choir, Sound Unlimited. “I loved high school because of music,” she said. “I made a lot of friends in Sound Unlimited and it boosted my confidence.”

Sean Zimmermann is 18 years old and plans to go to Southwestern College in the fall to begin studying psychology. “I like that major because I enjoy helping people,” he said.
Zimmermann admitted that high school wasn’t exactly a bowl of cherries but by his senior year he realized it was an experience he will never forget.

Ivan Zora will also attend Southwestern beginning this summer. At 17 he already knows that he wants to open up a restaurant after he graduates from college. “I’d like to provide unique food to people, somewhere by the beach,” he said.
Ivan said one of his favorite classes in school was English. “My teacher Ms. Roncoroni allowed students to get involved,” he said. “She was very liberal and gave students an opportunity to speak whatever was on their mind.”

Hampsten  said her most influential teacher was her music teacher, Ms. Ronacher.

“She gave me the opportunity to learn music and get better at it,” she said. “I appreciate her being in my life.”

Bonita Vista High principal Bettina Batista said after four years of getting to know one another, it was time to say goodbye. “You are bright, talented and strong individuals and I will miss you more than you know,” she said.

Bonita Vista High School had many accomplishments this year including the highest API scores in the Sweetwater Union High School District, winning the boy’s soccer championship, several band competitions and several other league championships in several sports including baseball, volleyball and softball.

Bimstein acknowledged that high school is the first real influence teenagers have. “Don’t let what you learned in school go to waste,” he said. “We’ve had a transformation from independence into leaders.”


A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Isabella Hampsten was 17 years old. Ms. Hampsten is 18 years old.

The Star-News regrets the error.


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