Oxnard graduates look to the future

Oxnard Graduation.
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© Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Graduates cheer as Principal, Erik Riegert, ceremoniously deems them graduates A graduate gleefully throws her hands in the air after receiving her diploma during the Oxnard High School 2011 Graduation Ceremony. © Tiffany israel/OUHSD

An overcast sky and chilly breeze failed to dampen the spirits of 650 seniors graduating from Oxnard High School on Friday afternoon.

Friends and family members cheered loudly as the Class of 2011 filed onto the football field.

Fifita Fakatoufifita, 45, a native of Tonga who now lives in Oxnard, cradled his 8-month-old daughter while searching for a glimpse of daughter Taiana, 18, as the Class of 2011 filed onto the football field.

“She’s into a lot of stuff at school and she’s an A student,” Fakatoufifita said proudly. “She plays volleyball and does track. She stays after school to participate in programs.

“She’s going to college, but I’m not sure which one yet. She’s excited, she’s happy like most teenagers. She likes it here.”

Tabitha Castro, 43, said her 18-year-old daughter wasn’t one to participate in clubs or sports.

“Celine doesn’t participate in activities much, but you know what, she gets her 2 cents in with her friends that do,” Castro said. “She’s kind of behind the scenes and likes it that way.”

Castro said she’s proud of her daughter, who plans to study cosmetology and hairstyling and hopes to open a business someday.

Principal Eric Riegert welcomed the crowd of well-wishers and addressed graduating seniors.

“You are ready to begin your life and live out a story that has not been written,” Riegert said. “Do not go quietly through life. Do not accept mediocrity.”

One by one, graduates approached the microphone. They recounted memories and recalled experiences from their four years of high school. They spoke of teachers, friends, Yellow Jacket victories on the playing field, academic competitions and prom night.

“This school year started with a new principal and administrative team,” Amanda Solis said. “Our football team made sushi of the school down the street (Pacifica High School) and shared the league title.”

Valedictorian Danielle Bonucchi reminded her classmates that they were part of Harry Potter mania and would soon be explaining to younger people how they managed to live without Facebook.

“Today, we become part of this changing world,” Bonucchi said. “We will each change the world in our own way. We will all leave our mark.”

Fellow Valedictorian Demi Meza said parents in attendance knew graduation is the “beginning of something extraordinary.”

“We all know the road before us is long and difficult,” Meza said. “If I learned one thing from high school it is life is full of trials. Remember, once a Jacket, always a Jacket.”

Oxnard High School

School district: Oxnard Union High School District

Spring enrollment: 2,900

Graduates: 650

Valedictorians: Danielle Jeanette Bonucchi, Ian Andersen Cossman, Demi Ashley Mesa, Sarah Marie Watte

Principal: Eric Riegert

Highlights past year: County Academic Decathlon champions; former state Superintendent Jack O’Connell first inductee into Oxnard High School Hall of Fame; improved in all state-mandated tests.

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