Pilarcitos High School Principal Raj Bechar likened life to a game of chess. At the fall 2017 graduation ceremony on Friday, he stressed the importance not only of a strong opening, but also a strong end game.
With good health and a diploma in hand, Bechar said that the three graduates that day — Jennifer Aguilar-Vasquez, Tyler J. Desmond and Jessica Claire Oseguere — were equipped for both.
“You will be able to have true power, have allies and strategies … and maybe take over a kingdom, peacefully,” Bechar said.
The new grads are considering certainly their futures. All intend to pursue more education.
Desmond said he wants to work on animation.
“I accomplished a lot of stuff. I feel like I have a big future,” said the big brother as his younger siblings looked up to him. He let his little brother wear his cap and helped him adjust the tassel.
Oseguere, who helped manage the production of a mural that will hang in the office after she’s left the school, wants to find an outlet for her art and creative skills.
Aguilar-Vasquez applied to a program at Skyline College already and plans to apply for another in fall.
“That’s just to keep me balanced,” she said. “My real goal is to sing.”
Aguilar-Vasquez had a head start when she gave a closing performance. She sang an original song called “Graduation” that she wrote in collaboration with other members of the school community.
Teacher Dudley Hughes played guitar. Bechar and school resource officer Shawn Chase also rapped, before they invited friends and family to celebrate the occasion over tamales and cake.
A proud community joined them.
“Yes! He made it,” exclaimed Desmond’s grandmother, Josie Bulosan as her grandchildren and children surrounded her. “I say, ‘Go to school.’ That’s what I tell them every day. Look at that now, a big guy.”
Some family members who helped their children succeed said they were at a loss for words.
“I have a lot of emotions. I want to cry for (them all) — happiness, overwhelming relief,” Stephanie Oseguera said of her daughter. “She is who she is. I’m so proud of her … We’re absolutely surprised with her ambition and we’re just so happy she made it.”
She added, “We’re really glad for the guidance of Pilarcitos High. The teachers here are exceptional. They’re like Jessica’s family.”
Like family, staff, faculty and administrators promised to continue to be a resource and show up for the students as they moved forward as part of the same pack.
“Once a coyote, always a coyote,” they said, referencing the school’s mascot.
As the ceremony drew to a close, Cabrillo Unified School District Superintendent Jane Yuster said graduation was the beginning of the rest of their lives.
“It is an end, but I’m also going to tell you it’s an opening,” Yuster said.
She challenged the students to stay focused on their goals, and advance toward them one step at a time — even if they seem impossible at first. She reminded them that not too long ago the diplomas they now held seemed unattainable.
“What you’ve got to think about is, ‘Do I want this?’” Yuster said. “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t, because you can. If you want it, go get it. If you need it, go find it.”