Friday, December 15 , 2017, 10:15 am | Smoke 69º


Santa Maria High School Students March Into New Academic Year

March of the Saints helps students learn about clubs, sports as other North County campuses gear up start

The Santa Maria High Saints Band performed Friday during the annual March of the Saints at Santa Maria High School. Click to view larger
The Santa Maria High Saints Band performed Friday during the annual March of the Saints at Santa Maria High School. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Hundreds of students joined in the March of the Saints at Santa Maria High School on Friday, learning about clubs and sports offered on campus plus the importance of planning for life after graduation.

The event held at the high school football stadium included tables representing assorted extracurricular activities designed to help freshmen and new students learn about their school.

“It’s really to expose them and hopefully they sign up for a variety of things, whether it’s a club or a sport, knowing that, statistically speaking, students that are active in school tend to do well academically and tend to do well overall,” said Activities Director Adrian Salazar, a class of 1993 graduate. 

March of the Saints, held for more than five years, has proven to be more successful than other recruitment efforts such as touting events in school bulletin announcements or plastering posters on campus, Salazar said.

On the football field, students played table tennis while others batted around a volleyball. The Santa Maria High Saints Band performed while standing in the bleachers.

And numerous groups, including Key Club, offered information about their purposes and activities, some widely known and other less so, such as Ce' Neni, which helps unite and welcome students from Oaxcaca.

At other tables, alumni who graduated from the school also were on hand to encourage students to start planning for life beyond high school.

Pablo Ramos from the class of 2003 and a Cal Poly graduate now works as an engineer for KPFF, a large engineering firm.

“The main reason I like to come is because I was lost in high school,” he said, adding that he grew up in a single-parent home and had no direction in figuring out his future.

“I come back because a lot of these kids are in my shoes, and if I can streamline the process, I love to do that,” he said. “I just love to feed these kids information and just motivate them to become better leaders and better citizens in their community.”

While students strolled, Ramos didn’t let them pass by without talking to him.

“It’s an event I take pride in,” Ramos said of March of the Saints.

Likewise, Ernesto Martinez, class of 2001 and a UC San Diego graduate now working as an engineer for the city of Torrance, grew up in a single-parent household.

He recalled his mom frequently asking him his future plans, even as a freshman, stressing the importance of looking ahead if he wanted to attend college.

“That’s essentially the message I try and deliver," Martinez said. "You’re not going to wake up one morning and have a college degree. You have to have a plan to get there and a well-defined plan. That’s all done through all the help your school gives you, your career center, your college counselors.”

March of the Saints occurred on day three of the new year for Santa Maria Joint Union School District students, who started Wednesday.

Many North County districts will begin their new school year next week, including 16,000 Santa Maria-Bonita School District students who start Monday.

Students in the Lompoc Unified High School District begin on Tuesday.  

Orcutt Academy High School students started Thursday while Orcutt and Lakeview junior high school seventh-graders return to classes Aug. 16 and remaining students in Orcutt Union School District begin Aug. 17.

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School also began Thursday, but its feeder districts start next week.

Campuses in the College School District in Santa Ynez plus Los Olivos School start Aug. 18.

Buellton Union School District campuses and Ballard School students start Aug. 16 while Solvang Elementary and Vista de Las Cruces in Gaviota start Aug. 17. 

At Santa Maria High’s March of the Saints, 12th grader Cesar Fabian represented the Associated Student Body and carried a sign announcing the upcoming spirit week theme, kicking off Monday.

He recalled joining several clubs and volleyball as a freshman. 

“Santa Maria High School’s such a great school. It has so much spirit and many good students that come here,” he said. “I’m proud to be a Saint.”

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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