By Fernando Alcantara, Brittany Hanson and Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
If you listen carefully, the stately sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” can be heard all across the Garden Grove-Stanton-Westminster area as local high schools hold their commencement exercises and send their graduates into the worlds of work, the military and higher education.
In the Garden Grove Unified School District, an estimated 3,623 students will be graduated from the system’s seven comprehensive high schools, and over 200 more from continuation programs.
Westminster High School graduates 676 students this week, and students taking their diplomas from Orange, Western and Magnolia high schools will bring the total membership of the class of 2011 past the 5,000 mark.
As expected with youth, many students look forward to the future with enthusiasm and hope. As to be expected in hard economic times, that hope is tempered with concern.
“I’m just a little worried about how this economy will end up turning out, and how it will affect me later,” said Maddie Pile, 17, of Garden Grove, who is graduating from Pacifica High School.
Finishing up with a 4.2 grade point average, she’s planning on studying oncology at California State University, Long Beach, then getting a medical degree at the University of California’s San Francisco campus.
Tim Nguyen of Westminster is graduating from Westminster High, and will enroll at Golden West College this fall. Interested in politics, he plans on going from there to Stanford or California (Berkeley) later.
“It was life-changing,” he said of his four years as a Lion. “I learned more about myself and experienced new things.”
Miriam Pina, 18, of Garden Grove, will be saying goodbye to Santiago High School.
“What I’m most excited about is just being able to experience everything life has to offer,” she said. “I mean, I did enjoy being a high school student, but now that I am graduating I’m excited to take opportunities that I wasn’t able to take before.”
After a stint in continuation school, Pina raised her grades and was able to graduate with her Cavalier class. Next stop will be Orange Coast College for general education classes, then transfer to CSU Fullerton to study nursing.
Jocey Rivera, 17, of Garden Grove, has Pacifica behind her and Cal State Long Beach ahead of her, but her immediate concern is finding a summer job.
“I went to Rite-Aid to try to get a job, and the manager told me that he’s having trouble playing his employees,” she said.
Kevin Nguyen 18, of Garden Grove, enjoyed his four years at Garden Grove High, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. The differences his traditional Asian parents and the younger generation’s perspective caused some tension.
“Especially when it came to relationships, traditional parents combined with a modern dating relationship and ideas about dating, it didn’t always mix well.” Said Nguyen, who will be attending CSU Fullerton. “But I did OK.”
Eddie Marquez of Westminster plans to follow his time at Westminster High with joining the firefighting academy at Santa Ana College.
“I want to be a firefighter mainly to help others and be a role model,” he said. “It’s for my family.” He’ll miss his other “family,” teammates from the Lions’ boys soccer team who’ve played together since their freshman year.