Antonia Bazzani, 17, and Alexander Moosbrugger, 17, are members of the San Marcos High School Class of 2020.
Graduates Antonia Bazzani, 17, and Alexander Moosbrugger, 17, say they have fond memories of their time at San Marcos High School. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The Class of 2020 graduated amid a pandemic, but they didn’t let it dim their dreams and spirits for the future.

There were many parts that senior class president Franciele Pereira said she loved about attending San Marcos High School. The students were welcoming and the campus beautiful, but what she enjoyed the most was being able to take San Marcos Health Careers Academy courses.

“Learning about the human body and how it functions was by far my favorite part,” Pereira said. “I will miss Royal Time and getting to hang out with friends in the library. It was a little chaotic because the library was a popular spot, but it just added to the ambiance.”

Pereira described her senior year at SMHS as “remarkable and unforgettable.” 

“My senior year, we started off with the wonderful Dr. (Kip) Glazer as our new principal,” Pereira said.

This school year, SMHS brought back a flash mob during one of the boys basketball games, spring fling and the senior sunrise. 

“I will never forget my senior year even (if) it was cut a few months short,” Pereira said. “It was not what I had in mind for my last few months of senior year, but throughout the year I had a great experience. 

“My piece of advice for the upcoming classes is to be involved and have fun because you do not know what will happen.”

Pereira plans to attend Santa Barbara City College in the fall to study biological sciences, and she is pursuing a future career as a neonatal physician.

COVID-19 did alter her plans after graduation, she said.

“I had originally planned to visit my family back in Brazil, but unfortunately, I won’t be able to visit in awhile due to the virus,” Pereira said.

The coronavirus health emergency changed the daily course of life for young adults in high school. Students continued their spring semester and studies virtually because of the pandemic.

Across Santa Barbara County, in-person activities and end-of-year events were abruptly canceled because of limits on gatherings and coronavirus-related rules.

For some, it has been one long roller-coaster ride, but ultimately, members of the Class of 2020 had their moment in the spotlight. 

Standing near the school’s Greek Theater this week, a handful of graduates spoke with Noozhawk about their experiences and their hopes for after graduation.

An intimate crowd of family members and a few Santa Barbara Unified School District staff, as well as members of the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education attended the “stage walk” event.

Alexander Moosbrugger, 17, said he started at San Marcos in 10th grade, and he spent time playing baseball as an outfielder and pitcher. He was the co-president and co-founder of the Sustainable Future Club, which works with the local nonprofit Sustainable Future to help connect students to sustainable access and composting initiatives around campus. The club seeks to incorporate Sustainable Future’s online platform to increase sustainability at SMHS.

Moosbrugger said he developed strong friendships in high school. 

“My favorite thing was the people,” Moosbrugger said of San Marcos. “The academics were great, and my friends, teachers and the people here (SMHS) were great.”

Moosbrugger will be headed to Princeton University in New Jersey next year to pursue a bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering. He said he hopes to become a climate engineer to try to help mitigate global warming.

He said that texting and calling will help him stay in touch with friends when he moves across the United States.

“I’m the only one from the Santa Barbara area going there, so I won’t be seeing my friends next year at college,” Moosbrugger said. “I’m going to try to connect with people when it’s safe to do so.”

Antonia Bazzani, 17, said she arrived at San Marcos as a sophomore, and right away she started the school’s Health Careers Academy.

The academy is designed for students between 10th and 12th grades, with a goal of teaching job readiness skills by incorporating frequent hands-on instructional activities that are developed with the post-secondary and industry in mind, according to SMHS.

“It was a great learning experience for me,” Bazzani said. “Getting that patient interaction before I’m even going into nursing school was nice. That helped me to determine what I want out of my future.”

Bazzani said she spent three years in the San Marcos Health Academy, and she had dual enrollment classes.

San Marocs High School graduate Iverson McKnight with Principal Kip Glazer.

San Marcos graduate Iverson McKnight with Principal Kip Glazer. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

“I got to become a certified nursing assistant in the Health Academy,” she said, noting her work with people at the Samarkand retirement community and Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara.

Bazzani is headed to Baylor University in Texas in the fall to study nursing.

The high school Health Academy educators were influential, she said.

“They were all people I could go to any time of day and tell them anything I was going through,” Bazzani said. “They all would help me out with anything I needed, and in high school, that’s what you need — is for those people to go to, especially since I didn’t go here my freshman year.”

She said she enjoyed being part of the school community.

“Being part of that gave me built-in friends, and we all got to take classes together,” Bazzani said. “We had a support system with the teachers, and having other people going through the same classes was nice. I’m friends with pretty much everybody in there.”

Bazzani said she had a busy schedule at San Marcos. Somedays, she would help as a health care service assistant from about 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and then she would attend classes until 1:30 p.m., followed by cheer practice until 3 p.m. and cheering for a sporting game in the evening.

This past year, Bazzani was the varsity cheer captain, and she said she learned several skills on the team of about 20 other students. She got to cheer at football and basketball games during last fall.

“Learning the leadership skills helped me out and gave me an opportunity to lead a team,” Bazzani said. “Being able to hype people up helped me with my public speaking and my public abilities.”

Iverson McKnight, 18, said he enjoyed the overall school pride, hanging out with friends and participating in theater at San Marcos during his senior year. 

He won an award for his outstanding work in the play “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” in fall 2019.

McKnight attended San Marcos for all four years, and he said he is hoping to continue theater in the next chapter of his life.

“I thought I’d go straight to (Santa Barbara) City College, and I will end up at a university,” he said. “Theater is so much fun.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.