|Sierra Nita, left, and Catherine Park enter Willow Hall during the Matt Garcia Learning Center graduation ceremony at the Fairfield Community Center, Tuesday. 25 students graduated at the ceremony. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)
FAIRFIELD — Jocelyn Huff and Kyle McNeal expressed the same feeling in two ways.
“I feel like I’ve been waiting a lifetime,” Huff said.
“I feel like I lost 20 pounds,” Neal said. “I’ve been working for this my whole life. I’m going to finally accomplish it.”
The two are members of the 2014 graduating class from the Matt Garcia Learning Center, also known as “The Matt Graduates.”
They were joined by 23 others, representing the school’s fourth graduating class.
Throughout the ceremony, the young men and women were praised for their tenacity and reminded that they hold the keys to their destiny.
Sheila McCabe, director of secondary education for the Fairfield-Suisun School District, told the crowd of about 125 people that she has a poster in her home showing the Grand Canyon with a river running through it. The accompany words tell how the river always wins the confrontation with the rock – because of perseverance, not strength.
“You have persevered,” she told the graduates and guests.
Teresa Courtemanche, the mother of Matt Garcia, the school’s namesake, encouraged the young men and women to realize how amazing they were and shared a little about her life.
“I was pregnant with Matt as a teen and went to the adult school, which is now the Matt Garcia Learning Center,” she said. ”I know Matt is with us, too.”
“You are a demonstration that anything is possible,” said Raymond Courtemanche, Garcia’s stepfather. “You are a representation of the spirit of Matt.”
Student speakers Sierra Nita, Catherine Park and Adrianna Azevedo reminisced about their studies at the Matt Garcia Learning Center and the difference it made in them making it through high school.
“Our hard work has paid off,” Park said.
Azevedo praised the teachers for their help.
“They bent over backward (for us),” she said.
Principal Cindy Lenners sent the graduates off to meet with their family friends after giving them kudos for making the right choices.
“Your are responsible for continuing to reach for the stars,” she said.
A few hats were tossed in the air as the Class of 2014 dispersed in Willow Hall at the Fairfield Community Center.
Destinee Penton posed for pictures with family and friends, including her father Dean Penton.
“I’m proud of her, just like any dad would be,” he said.
In another area, Daniel Cardona-Coronel was surrounded by family members who wanted to pose with him. He was several credits short as he entered his junior year of high school, he said. Once he started earning more, he decided to stay.
“I thought, ‘I might as well finish now that I’m here,’ ” he said.
Article Source: The Daily Republic