As she took the stage to give a speech to her fellow graduates and their families, Morales had trouble speaking through her tears of joy, a moment that was greeted with thunderous applause from the crowd.
“I will cherish everything, especially the teachers who helped steer me to my career path to success. Thanks to everyone who believed in me,” Morales said. “There were those who told me I wouldn’t amount to anything. I proved you wrong. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Morales was named top academic scholar, Associated Student Body president and Renaissance scholar and received a people’s choice award, a Camarillo Women’s Club scholarship and “most inspirational” award. She said she was finding it hard to believe she was being honored.
“I had finished my sophomore year with straight F’s. The teachers at Frontier made me realize I have more potential,” said Morales, who plans to attend Ventura College to become a teacher so she can help other students like her. “I’m very proud. I still can’t believe it.”
Jesse Hernandez, who also received a number of honors, including people’s choice award, “most inspirational” award and Camarillo Noontime Optimists award, also spoke during the ceremony.
He said that when he first came to the school, he was a failure as a student but turned things around with the help of Frontier teachers and the support of his family. He said he labored over his speech to his classmates, writing it three or four times before he was satisfied.
“There’s no limit if you put your mind to something. I didn’t think I would graduate. I started off really, really unmotivated,” Hernandez said. Now he plans to attend Oxnard College to pursue a career as a firefighter.
“I want to thank the staff for not giving up on me and my grandmom and family for supporting me,” he said.
Frontier Principal Wayne Lamas said graduation represents a huge triumph in the students’ lives.
“This has been a long road, with challenges and detours for many of you. But you rode out the storm and achieved the goals you set for yourself,” he said, adding that one thing he has learned through working with the students is the need to give them respect.
“Never forget the basic need to be listened to. Never forget how much it means to have someone to listen to us. You are here because of the love, sacrifice and support of your parents and high school. But most of all because of the belief you had in yourself that allowed you to be here.”