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June 26, 2022

Class of 2020: Senior Spotlights

Selecting students for the Morgan Hill Times’ annual senior spotlight honor is no enviable task. That’s why we make the principals, school counselors and staff sort it out. These students have navigated the labyrinth of high school hurdles, and we are inspired by their optimistic outlook, refreshing attitudes and heartfelt honesty. We celebrate them, their families, their mentors and all the graduating seniors in the Class of 2020.

Live Oak High School: Ana Fuenzalida

Ana Fuenzalida

What are your plans after high school?

After high school, I plan on attending the University of Massachusetts, Boston to major in International Relations.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

One of my fondest memories from high school is when a few students and I organized freshman orientation in a matter of a couple days and gathered volunteers across our junior and senior classes to participate. Each pair/group of orientation leaders chose a theme, whether that be superheroes, nerds, aliens, etc., and then we all got together to make signs. It was a total bonding experience, and I felt really proud of all the work that went into planning and executing the event. 

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19?

I’m going to be completely honest, it was extremely hard to adapt after my senior year was abruptly ended. I mean, you have no choice but to adapt because you can’t leave your house, but it was just difficult to come to terms with the fact that all this planning we were doing, everything I was looking forward to, became this totally uncertain thing, and then ultimately just wasn’t going to happen anymore. I’m still trying to adapt.

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

My favorite high school teacher has to be Ms. Ware, my AP Spanish Language teacher. I have never felt more prepared for an AP test or felt like I was truly learning and exercising my knowledge of Spanish than I did in her class.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself looking for my first job, hopefully in PR, whether that be in the Silicon Valley or in New York City.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

My piece of advice for freshmen is to experience everything you can while you’re in high school, don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help, but go out, join clubs, make friends, get involved!

Live Oak High School: Beatrice Sarmiento

Beatrice Sarmiento

What are your plans after high school?

My plans after high school are to major in psychology and attend the University of Southern California (USC) on a merit scholarship. I will then go to medical school in hopes of becoming an anesthesiologist.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

One of my fondest memories from high school was the final El Toro Bowl in 2016. The El Toro Bowl was one of the Morgan Hill community’s biggest nights. There was nothing like ending my very first performance with the Live Oak marching band and hearing the crowd go crazy.

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19? 

I adapted to Covid-19 by trying to make the most out of shelter-in-place. I am sewing cloth masks, learning how to cook, and baking endlessly, much to the chagrin of my mother. I am also coping through video games (Animal Crossing), reading and painting.

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

My favorite high school teacher was my marching band director, Jason Locsin. I look up to him and I will always appreciate him for his guidance, kindness and life lessons. Without him, I would have never been able to develop true leadership skills and a sense of appreciation for music.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself powering through medical school at hopefully a top institution. My entire family works in the medical field, which perpetuates the Filipino nurse stereotype, but I would love to be the first female doctor in my huge family.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

My advice would be to make the choices that you would regret the least. Covid-19 has made me realize that no one will ever know how things will turn out. Make your decisions not necessarily by yourself, but FOR yourself. Use your time for self-discovery. Who knows what’ll happen?

Live Oak High School: Elijah Reyes

Elijah Reyes

What are your plans after high school?

I’ll be attending San Jose State University this fall as a music education major. After six years of playing music in and out of school, it’s become a huge part of my life. I strive to inspire students to have the drive and passion I had for music in school.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

My fondest memory is my final performance as drum major of the Live Oak Emerald Regime at the Western Band Association Championships this past fall. It was an honor leading the band that gave me so much, and we showed all of California what Live Oak could do that night.

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to COVID-19?

I am thankful everyday to have such a supportive family at home to keep my spirits up in such crazy times. I’ve dedicated a lot of my free time to my saxophone, and have even picked up some other instruments along the way.

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

My favorite high school teacher by far is my music teacher Mr. Jason Locsin. Being my teacher from middle school at Britton through high school at Live Oak, he sparked my love for music. Thanks to his constant support over the years, I’ve become the performer I am today.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself finished up with my degree in music education and hopefully landed a job as a high school music director.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

Be confident, be brave, be fearless. If you’re scared during your time in high school that you haven’t figured out who you are or where you want to go, that’s okay. This is your chance to show the world who you are and what values you hold. Embrace that change.

Sobrato High School: Crystal Garcia

Crystal Garcia

What are your plans after high school?

I plan to attend Cabrillo College and work part-time to transfer into a four-year university after earning my general education credits. In addition to this, I hope to join clubs and engage in extracurriculars to expand my involvement and find a new community in a distinct environment.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

To pinpoint my favorite memory is difficult, but something I’ve continuously enjoyed has been homecoming week which includes the class skits, our cheer performance and the club food fair. The excitement, bustle and the collaboration of all the organizations in one place is electric and has always lifted my spirits.

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19?

In attempts to try to maintain the emotional importance of many of my friendships, I have begun to rely heavily on video chatting and screen sharing for movie nights. In terms of academics, I have had to strengthen my skills in time management and organization in order to complete assignments.

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

All of my teachers have impacted me, but one teacher who has truly shaped me is Ms. Stubbe; full of love and passion, she makes students feel valued. Strongly educated and opinionated, she has reminded me of the importance of taking a stand and taking action to better the world.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and working in a job surrounding the profession of Journalism. I also hope to dedicate my time to a nonprofit organization as an active volunteer and hope to engage in an impactful service project.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

To all the incoming students, you shouldn’t have to abide by who others think you should be. Make your high school experience your own rather than living up to other’s stories. Make your values the core of your life and invest in trying uncomfortable things.

Sobrato High School: Joshua Nickerson

Joshua Nickerson

What are your plans after high school?

My plans are to attend San Jose State University and study sociology. I plan on joining the boxing team and working part time at a restaurant.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

Connecting with the teachers on a much closer level and how hard the staff worked to make the years special.

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19? 

I adapted and changed my perspective on how much worse the situation could have gotten, and focused on how our class is different in its own way. It just shows how special we are.

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

I can’t choose just one.My three favorite teachers are Ms. Tool, Ms. Unterreiner and Ms. Kellet. All have shown me extreme care and kindness and have shown they are more than just teachers, but role models and influencers.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself becoming some type of influencer or social helper like a therapist or counselor. I also have plans to make my own nonprofit organization with a mix of boxing and therapy. It would be a place for kids who may struggle with unhealthy families and backgrounds. It would provide guidance, advice, family structure, etc

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

Don’t pretend to be anyone else; always stay true to yourself and you will find more happiness and positive things will come your way.

Sobrato High School: Molly Foster

What are your plans after high school?

After high school I will be attending Cal Poly SLO and majoring in environmental engineering.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

Hanging out with my teammates at water polo games and practices was one of the best parts of high school. Playing with my team was so much fun and I will miss being a part of that.

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19? 

When we transitioned to online learning, I created a schedule for myself to help keep some sort of structure. I made sure to include time to destress with all of the changes happening, such as running and trying to learn to unicycle.

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

I don’t think I could ever choose a favorite teacher because so many contributed positively toward my education. I’ve appreciated Mrs. Rottenborn’s guidance in Red Cross, my English teachers Ms. Stubbe and Ms. Unterriener for their support and interesting classes, and Mr. Alvarez for his time helping me with ceramics.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope in five years to have graduated with my bachelor’s and possibly be pursuing a master’s degree. Alternatively, I would like to be already working in a company combating climate change.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

Don’t discount the value of the small moments and take the opportunities that appear. Learn to manage your time and stay organized but also have fun. Be open and try to talk to a variety of people.

Central High School: Isaac Arias

Isaac Arias, pictured to the right with camera, aspires to be a cinematographer. Photo: Chris Mora

What are your plans after high school?

After High School, I plan on pursuing my passion for Cinematography in the large scale concerts all around the world, and my local community.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

One day at Sobrato during lunch, I had asked our photo teacher Mr.Barnes if he had some sauce for a burger I got for lunch and he handed me a fat bottle of Sriracha sauce, which I had never had before and I put some on my burger and took a bite. Immediately I felt a burning sensation which followed by me finishing an entire bottle of water. Since that day I have never touched that stuff again.

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19?

As the spread of the coronavirus occurred, more and more I did not feel like school would come to an end so early. When the day came to us having to start doing online school work from home I was being mentally challenged because I personally like to work one on one with my teachers to get a better understanding of my work. As the end of my senior year came closer, I pushed myself to do more reading in the lessons I was struggling to pass all of my courses.

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

I’m going to have to hand this to my Math teacher, Mr.Gilford, He has always been there for me when I did not understand a problem and pushed me to get it all done so that I did not have to go back and have to work on anything late.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

With the way everything is going right now in the world it is hard for me to say. Whether I go to school for film or something new, I will always be creating visual stories for people all around the world.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

PAY ATTENTION, I cannot stress that enough. While getting used to the environment of high school and meeting all kinds of new people around you, you must get to know your teachers and stay on top of work to make sure you succeed. The last thing you would not want to happen is having to make up credits and do summer school, no one wants to cut their time out of summer to go sit in a class again.

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