A raucous, enthusiastic crowd overflowed Littleton Community Center as 42 Estrellita High School students received their diplomas Tuesday night.
Family and friends of the continuation school graduates whooped it up as the students entered the community center from the kitchen and walked onto the stage.
Principal Tony Lara continually praised the high achievements of the Class of 2006. He noted that the current graduating class, as juniors last year, helped Estrellita's Academic Performance Index jump 213 points over 2004.
"This group is very hardworking," Lara said.
One student who overcame several obstacles was Maribel Mendez-Chavez, who enrolled at Estrellita three years ago after spending her freshman year at Galt High. She went to Estrellita because it had a parenting program. She was able to bring her young daughter to school.
As an independent study student, Mendez-Chavez, now 19, would see her teacher, Nancy Bauer, for about an hour each week and spend the rest of her time doing homework and taking care of her two children.
Mendez-Chavez was born in Mexico and lived in California for 15 years. She actually graduated early, Bauer said. Mendez-Chavez said she hopes to attend California State University, Chico.
Three students, Patricia Records, Trevell Sanders and Anthony Zuniga, presented the class gift - a framed picture of an eagle with the inscription, "Dare to Soar."
Fourteen students were selected to show their appreciation to their families, their favorite teachers and Lara, who was praised for frequently joining the students for volleyball during class breaks.
One student, Danielle Newman, talked about how she developed the confidence at Estrellita to not be too concerned about what people thought of her like she did before enrolling at the school. Several students described Estrellita as having a family atmosphere.
"That's what Estrellita is all about - energy and a lot of love," Lara said.
Before diplomas were handed out, a slide show of students' baby pictures were shown along with photos from the school prom and other campus activities.
Estrellita High 2006 graduates
Santos, Julio De Los
Garrett, Roy *
Starks-Moss, Da Shay
* Received diploma at a board meeting earlier in the year
Estrellita High awardsSeveral awards and scholarships were handed out to graduating seniors. They were not announced prior to the ceremony.
Galt High Alumni Association ($500 scholarship): Erica Valenzuela
Galt Lions Club ($500 scholarship): Edson Gutierrez
Estrellita High staff: Katelyn Afoa
Citizenship award: Trevell Sanders
Leadership award: Tiffany Caldwell
School pride award: Katelyn Afoa and Josefina Macias
Teachers' award: Maribel Mendez-Chavez and Irving Gonzalez
Army Reserve National Scholar-Athlete: Josefina Macias and Anthony Zuniga
Source: Estrellita High School.
First published: Wednesday, May 31, 2006