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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 8:27 pm | Fair 54º


Orcutt Academy High’s Class of 2017 Embraces School Pride at Commencement

Charter school’s sixth graduating class cites passion and brilliance of new alumni, while vowing to never forget each other


Stephen Lees carried the title of valedictorian for Orcutt Academy High School’s class of 2017, but said his fellow graduates displayed brilliance in their own ways as athletes, artists and more.

He also noted those students who worked to support their families, dealt with separated parents or helped care for siblings.

“You, most of all are brilliant,” said Lees, who is heading to UCLA in fall to study bioengineering.

“I encourage you to continue using your gifts and following your passion regardless of prestige,” he told graduates, adding they will make a difference whether joining the military, continuing their education or entering the work force.

“I love you guys,” he said. “Thank you for teaching me so much.

“Congratulations to Orcutt Academy’s class of 2017. You are brilliant.”

The class, with 138 graduates, marked the sixth for the charter school in the Orcutt Union School District.

With the school’s Spartans banner behind the stage in the Allan Hancock College gymnasium, family and friends filled the bleachers.

Principal Rhett Carter said 90 percent of students completed requirements to attend a University of California or California State University campus in the fall.

“Each of our graduating seniors needs to become problem solvers,” he said. “Find a problem and use your time and talent to solve it. The problems you solve may be small and they may be significant.

“As long you find a way to solve problems you face and that others face you will be successful.”

The ceremony included performances by the OAHS Choir and the OAHS Sweet Adelines Quartet, along with the flag presentation made by a group of students, including seven foreign exchange students.

Class salutatorian Jessie Jin noted that the small school’s graduates formed a strong bond among themselves and with teachers.

“I think it is the people that made Orcutt Academy so great,” said Jin, who plans to attend UC Berkeley to study electrical engineering and computer science.

Before leaving the stage, she led her fellow graduates in the school chant, shouting “Spartans” as they responded “Unite”

Rebekah Avila, Associated Student Body president, led her classmates in the American flag salute before describing her favorite part of Orcutt Academy: the dedicated teachers who are passionate about what they do.

“It is the teachers who make the school so great,” she added.

Avila and her fellow graduates will start the next chapter of their lives, she said.

“Someone once told me: High school’s like toilet paper,” she added. “Youcre only going to miss it when it’s gone.”

As they get to move on to universities, military or jobs, Avila said she is proud of her classmates.

“And I promise you, I will never forget you guys,” she added with emotion choking her voice.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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