While the traditional pomp and circumstance with family and friends was not an option, all three high schools conducted a graduation event to honor the class of 2020. The events allowed each graduate to walk across the stage, move their tassel and be filmed and photographed. Those filmings took days at LAHS and MVHS to allow for social distancing, and the videos will be shown drive-in movie style with limited cars at each showing. Alta Vista conducted a small ceremony and provided the recording to families of graduates. Each graduate received a yard sign to place in their front yard to announce this accomplishment to their neighborhood.
Eighteen mentored students graduated this year and here are three of their stories.
Jesus met his mentor Raleigh at the beginning of his junior year. Jesus said, “Before I joined the mentor program, I just went home after school. When I met Raleigh, I was always so excited that we were going to do something fun!” While Jesus credits Raleigh with improving his attitude about school, the best part of his experience was doing new things together. For Jesus, those often included hikes or bike rides to explore new places. One of the new experiences was visiting a car show with Raleigh. Jesus has always been fascinated by cars and when he saw all the cars at the show, he could see himself in his dream job in auto repair. In fact, Jesus plans to start his automotive classes at DeAnza College this summer as he works toward his goal. Jesus and Raleigh communicate almost daily via text, and most probably will continue to keep up the communication and support as Jesus pursues his college career.
When Emily met her mentor Jocelyn two years ago, it took a few weeks to make a strong connection. Jocelyn said, “The closeness builds up over time and can sneak up on you both – in a good way!” They very quickly began a routine of seeing each other almost every week. They love to get their favorite boba tea and talk. Emily expressed how special it’s been to have Jocelyn as a mentor. Emily is grateful to have “someone to listen if I’m going through something rough. I can trust Jocelyn.” Emily shared, “Before I met Jocelyn, I wasn’t sure of my personal decisions. I didn’t have someone encouraging me. Jocelyn really helped change who I was as a person.” Jocelyn has her own take on it. She told Emily, “I’ve loved being part of your learning. You’ve uncovered yourself and are able to see who you really are — compassionate, authentic, grounded – your friends are so lucky to have you!”
Emily will be the first in her family to attend college and she is thrilled for the opportunity. Her plan is to attend Foothill College for two years, studying business and taking her core courses. From there she plans to transfer to San Jose State to complete a business degree. She sees so many possibilities for her future including marketing and managing a store. There is no doubt that Emily and Jocelyn’s relationship will not end with high school graduation.
Melaine and Sue were matched when Melaine was a freshman. At the time, Melaine was a soft spoken, quiet student who was the only one in her class to sign up for a mentor. Four years later, Melaine is graduating, and with the help of financial aid, plans to attend San Francisco State University to study nursing. Melaine said her first few outings with Sue were a bit awkward because she didn’t know what she would talk to this total stranger about. However, as they began to get to know one another, open up and build trust, Sue became like a second mother to her. They would talk about everything, and Melaine always felt accepted, and respected. Sue was often there to lift her up with encouraging words and gave her just the extra push she needed to move forward. For Melaine, Sue was a friend she could depend on to go to the mall, grab a bite to eat or hang out and talk. She was especially grateful to have Sue when life became stressful and she needed someone to “lay everything out” and sort out the things that were troubling her. She has no doubt that she and Sue will be lifetime friends and is grateful to have had the opportunity for a mentor during her high school years. Sue concurs that she and Melaine will be friends for life and expressed that it was her honor to be a sounding board for Melaine and to watch Melaine mature and grow. Sue was often in awe of how capable Melaine was as she watched her juggle school, cheer, soccer, caring for younger siblings, college applications and a job. Their relationship is a tribute to the power a mentor has to make a giant difference in the life of a student by simply being a supportive, present, accepting and empathetic adult.