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Graduation: ‘It means everything’

Education: Small group of high school students graduates after finishing final summer classes

Posted: July 16, 2010 9:55 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Maria Barron is congratulated by boyfriend Juan Orona at the graduation ceremony for the students who completed their high school graduation requirements through summer school, at Canyon High School Friday morning.

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Emmanuel Garcia, garbed in a cap and gown, wrapped his arms around his beaming mother as she said how proud she was of him.

“I’m happy because he is graduating from high school. So now he can start a career so he can have a better life in his future,” Berta Garcia said in Spanish, with her son translating. “A good job and a good life, with a good family.”

Emmanuel Garcia, 19, graduated from Golden Valley High School on Friday morning in a ceremony for students of the William S. Hart Union High School District who needed summer school courses to meet their graduation requirements.

The intimate ceremony included 19 students whose families and friends filled a small room at Canyon High School. Everyone was smiling and taking pictures; some people were even standing in the back with balloons. 

Under a banner reading “Congratulations,” school officials gave the graduates advice and told them that it was not important when they graduated — all that mattered was that they graduated.

“Discover what you love, find a passion in life,” said Bob Messina, principal of Canyon High School. “Go after it, make it into a career.”

Students were unable to complete their graduation requirements for different reasons. For some, it was academic. For others, it had to do with personal and family situations, school officials said.

A biology class kept Emmanuel Garcia from graduating with his classmates. It was not that he failed the class — the Garcias moved here from Mexico two-and-a-half years ago, and not all of his credits from his former school transferred. 

He had to learn the language, the system and the culture when he came here — and it wasn’t easy.

“If you have a goal, you just need to work for it,” Emmanuel Garcia said. “Everything in life is going to be hard, but if you focus on what you want to do you’ll make it, no matter what. You just need to work for it.”

He plans to attend College of the Canyons in the fall. He said he is trying to follow Messina’s advice and hopes to become a psychologist in the future because he likes to help others with their problems.

Even though Emmanuel Garcia was a little disappointed he could not graduate with his peers in June, he said he is still happy to be graduating. 

“I was waiting for this since I started high school,” Emmanuel Garcia said. “It means everything.”

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