By Maureen Robertson
Dave Lohman, completing his first year as principal of Montecito High School, decided to turn an end-of-the-year tradition into a celebration.
Instead of presenting scholarships and awards to seniors at the alternative school on graduation night, he planned something special. With help from school employees and Trustee Kim Lasley, he staged a Senior Scholarship & Awards Dinner for the seniors and their families and guests a week before graduation.
“We wanted to celebrate our kids’ successes,” said Lohman. “We decided to have a dinner, make it classy.”
With tablecloths on the tables, party lanterns scattered about, and Lasley and her crew serving smoked tri-tip, pulled pork, green salad, fresh fruit salad, coleslaw — with two cakes for dessert — the outdoor event celebrated the students’ achievements and college and career plans.
“What a special evening for these kids,” said Lasley, who prepared and donated the food for the occasion.
Representatives of Ramona Rotary, Soroptimist International of Ramona, and the district office participated in the scholarship presentations ranging from $200 from Sun Valley Council PTA to $1,000 from Ramona Chamber of Commerce and Plumbloco.
The Plumbloco Scholarship for Perseverance came from the husband-wife team of Greg Chick, a plumber, and Dr. Jane Tanaka, a psychiatrist. The scholarship went to salutatorian Alex Francisco Suazo. Tanaka quietly told Suazo that for every year he earns at least a 3.0 grade-point average in college, he will receive another Plumbloco scholarship of $1,000.
Suazo plans to attend Palomar College in the fall and is interested in exploring engineering with an emphasis on wind and solar energy. Tanaka told him Plumbloco scholarships will follow him through undergraduate and graduate school each time he hits the 3.0 or higher mark.
College and Career Center Director Lisa Filice and College and Career Adviser Katy Behnke joined Montecito teachers in the award presentations that culminated in the Future Plan Awards to seniors with specific college and career plans.
Six days later, on June 11, Class of 2013 graduation took place for 48 Montecito High and 30 Future Bound Independent Study graduates.
Perseverance and resilience were the themes in two key talks of the evening. Valedictorian Adrieana Rodriguez called perseverance the key to success, and Lohman focused on resilience.
“Each person here today has a history, a past, good or bad. I know it hasn’t been easy for anyone to get here, not the students, the teachers or our families,” said Rodriguez, whose parents are deceased. “...Although there are many obstacles in life that we have faced and even more to come, it is important we remember to just take things one step at a time and keep in mind that the best is yet to come.”
Resilient’s definition is “able to recover quickly from setbacks, the ability to bounce back from adversity,” said Lohman.
“Graduates, the word resilient describes each and every one of you,” he said. “All of you have overcome many obstacles. Each and every one of us hopes that you take this word resilient, keep it in your back pocket, and use it each and every day for the rest of your life.”