Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Final Matt Garcia Academy Grads Earn Diplomas

Matt Garcia Career and College Academy graduates, from left to right, Cheyanna Kraly, Ethin Mac Donald and Disney Moreno, flip their tassels to celebrate graduating at the Fairfield Community Center, Thursday, June 6, 2019. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD — Seven graduates bid goodbye Wednesday afternoon to the Matt Garcia Career & College Academy.

They also represented the last class that can call themselves graduates of the school named after late Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia.

It has been serving sixth through 12th grades and is becoming a school of choice for middle schoolers. The high school portion will be closed.

Zachary Wasilchin attended Matt Garcia all four years.

“It’s more of a family,” he said of the school, adding that he didn’t think he would have thrived in a traditional high school.

A five-year member of the Fairfield Fire Department’s Explorer Post, he plans to take an emergency medical technician course, attend the fire academy and work for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection or the U.S. Forest Service.

Wasilchin is so serious about his career, he was going out for a meal after the ceremony then on to a business meeting at the Fire Department.

History and art teacher Michelle Hays worked with some of the graduates since middle school. She also emphasized the family atmosphere at the academy, noting that the students pushed each other to study and graduate.

“It was very much a team effort,” she said.

While the graduates were in elementary school when Garcia was shot and killed in a case of mistaken identity, they all knew who he is and strive to follow Garcia’s Keep the Dream alive message.

Raymond Courtemanche, Garcia’s stepfather, was a frequent visitor to the campus, Hays said.

“It’s an ending and beginning,” principal Dennis Foster told the graduates and their guests.

The Matt Garcia Career & College Academy was the perfect place for “misfit students and staff,” he said.

“Today is a milestone in your long journey of life,” Foster said. “It shouldn’t be a pinnacle.”

Student speaker Ethin Mac Donald mentioned he was apprehensive about the school closing, noting the need will remain.

He encouraged his fellow graduates to make a commitment to keep learning.

Mac Donald thanked staff and family for all their support, especially in the beginning.

“We can take it from here,” he said.

Article Source: https://www.dailyrepublic.com/all-dr-news/solano-news/fairfield/final-matt-garcia-academy-grads-earn-diplomas/?fbclid=IwAR2OMk-pbSaZ1gsEyO62HZ39d4lwwRr054Oi1F7pPe0R4bmmiVKHDanBZuI

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