Pacifica graduates bid farewell to friends, school

Pacifica Graduation.
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© Carlos Chavez/VC Star
Adrianna Fernandez shows off her diploma as she steps off the stage Friday at Pacifica High School in Oxnard. © Carlos Chavez/VC Star

Though they were enshrouded in June gloom, spirits were bright as 673 graduates of Pacifica High School’s Class of 2011 stormed the football field in white, green and black to get their diplomas.

“I’m excited. I’m anxious to get my life going,” said 18-year-old Aundria Basquez as she waited for the ceremony to start. “I’m really proud to know I have something to look forward to in the next couple of months.”

Basquez, who’s heading off to Indiana University-Purdue at Indianapolis on a Division I softball scholarship, huddled next to her best friend and teammate, Tatiana Alcala, who will play Division I softball at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Pacifica High graduates bid farewell to friends, school

“We’ve already calculated it by GPS,” Alcala said. “We’re a nine-hour drive away from each other.”

“She demands a phone call every day,” Basquez added playfully.

Friendships were one of the many things celebrated as speakers took the stage before a crowd of several thousand for the school’s eighth annual commencement ceremony Friday in Oxnard. The school was also celebrating its 10-year anniversary and students heading off to schools such as Brown University, MIT, Princeton and the Naval Academy, as well as schools in the UC and CSU systems.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Pacifica High School has produced some of the greatest citizens of our community,” said Associated Student Body President Jesus Candelario as he welcomed the graduates.

Stephanie Pascua, one of four senior speakers chosen by classmates, congratulated her fellow graduates on their “long, arduous, four-year transformation,” and reminded them, “We are more than ready to take on the future. However, we cannot forget the people that have inspired greatness in us.”

She then led the crowd to “chant their hearts out” in their last act as seniors.

“Twenty-one-one! Twenty-one-one!” they screamed in unison.

Three valedictorians shared the stage.

Ryan Ota, who will attend Pomona College, told the graduates, “Whatever path you choose for yourself, live your life without regret.”

Edgardo Farias, who will attend MIT, advised them to “become the people that will serve as role models for future generations.”

Maria Alpirez, who is heading to UCLA, added, “We have to work hard to reach the goals we have set. We’re all gifted in some way.”

“It’s showtime!” yelled Principal Bijou Beltran as she got ready to welcome the graduates to the stage for their diplomas.

On the sidelines, graduate Angelique Deharo’s 18 family members jumped into action, blaring bullhorns and waving signs with the letters of her name spelled out 2 feet high.

“I see her! I see her!” called her mother, Liz Deharo. “Put the letters up! I love you, Angie!”

Nearby, Zilmer Lee, whose son Zilmer Lee III is heading to Moorpark College to play football, mused, “It goes by so fast. He’s a good kid. I’m lucky.”

Pacifica High School

School district: Oxnard Union High School District

Spring enrollment: 3,127

Graduates: 673

Valedictorians: Maria Alpirez, Edgardo Farias, Ryan Ota

Principal: Bijou Beltran

Past year’s highlights: Celebrated 10th year as a school; achieved the greatest California High School Exit Examination pass rate in school history; Academic Decathlon team won first place in its division.

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