Graduates of Helen Hunt Jackson College Prep High School celebrated May 23 at Ramona Bowl Amphitheater
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Education has changed a lot in the 21st century, and now students can prepare for their futures both in the classroom and online. The Helen Hunt Jackson College Prep High School graduating class of 2018 can attest to that statement.
These 85 students, a mix of classroom-based, independent study, and online-based learners, met in person at the Ramona Bowl on Tuesday May 23 to celebrate getting it all done in their own ways.
Principal Frank Green says this class proves the change in school format is working: “This is kind of the first group that we’ve merged the College Prep and Helen Hunt Jackson programs together. So there’s a mix of online learners and a mix of independent study and some project-based program kids. We have three different programs graduating under one school now. We’re really excited about that.”
Salutatorian Matthew Reed urged his classmates to focus on each of their own goals: “We now have to move along with life, going our own ways trying to find something that we enjoy doing and try to get paid for doing it. As Steve Jobs once said, ‘Do what you love to do. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.’ So now the question is, what will you all be doing from now on?”
Valedictorian Carisma Patrick admitted to her classmates that high school felt longer than it was: “We all have this preconceived notion that if you’re good in school, you literally spend every hour outside of school doing schoolwork… I don’t study every day. I don’t like doing my homework. I stay up late and procrastinate just like everybody else. I literally asked Mrs. Newborn what the latest time to turn in the speech would be!” She went on to thank her parents, sister, teachers, and Mrs. Newborn, for helping her get through it all.
In addition to the school board and hundreds of family and friends present this evening, the Class of 2018 welcomed a very special guest this evening; HHJ Class of 2011 alumni speaker Alexa Borba: “We all have our own special stories as to how we ended up here at Helen Hunt. Mine began at age 16, when I found out I was pregnant. I quickly realized what mattered to me at that point was realizing I needed to graduate high school and move on to the next chapter of my life.”
After graduating six months early with the 2011 class, Borba has graduated from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in criminology and plans to attend law school. She says her son inspires her to keep going.
Superintendent Christi Barrett hopes these graduates all find what they love to do with their lives: “You all have many options to choose from, and I hope whatever path you choose to journey on it is personally fulfilling, brings value to not only you but those around you, and takes you places you never imagined to be possible.”
A handful of graduates here were honored with scholarships made possible by the HUSD Governing Board, the American Red Cross, SchoolsFirst and Altura credit unions, the Hemet Education Foundation, and the San Jacinto Lions Club.
After these 85 graduates received the holders that would soon cradle their diplomas, classmate Adrian Pablin Magallanes led the turning of the tassels.
As a show of appreciation to those who helped them on their journey, the Class of 2018 selected “Thank You” by Keilani as their recessional song this year.
The Helen Hunt staff and faculty dedicated this year’s commencement ceremony in memory of teacher Jay Marcus; Marcus battled cancer as he taught at Helen Hunt, and would succumb to it in March. Staff and faculty remember him for “his dedication to the students of this district, his infectious sense of humor, and an upbeat attitude shown to all students and staff, regardless of his own struggles.”