Gonzales promotes student success with street banners

Photos by David Minsky | Gonzales is now adorned with banners of recent Gonzales High School graduates who are moving on to higher learning. Below, Gonzales High graduates (from left) Adilenne Ramirez, Scott Funk and Abran Magana will start classes at their respective colleges in the coming weeks.

Featured youth talk about future plans for college and beyond

GONZALES — The city of Gonzales has revealed its latest promotion: its own students. Fifth Street, the main drag that connects the city to the 101 freeway, is now adorned with banners of recent Gonzales High School graduates who are moving on to their next stage in life, which is higher learning.

The banners feature students who will be attending college this fall.

According to Gonzales Unified School District Superintendent Yvette Irving, the banner program was an idea conceived by Candice McFarland, the district’s director of college and career readiness. It is the first time the city has had such a program.

Irving added that Miguel Ocampo, the district’s coordinator of college and career readiness, took the students’ photographs.

The district partnered with the City of Gonzales to have the banners posted along light poles on Fifth Street and in Central Park.

The banner program is meant to celebrate the achievements of all 2019 graduates, including those who attend community college, technical school or have enlisted in the military.

Irving noted that the district doesn’t define success only by going to a four-year university.

“This is a representation of a very large group that graduated last June,” Irving said.

South County Newspapers interviewed three college-bound GHS students for this story.

Abran Magana, 17, will begin fall classes at UC-Davis on Sept. 23. He plans to major in anthropology with a minor in computer science. He is also considering a minor in political science.

With a combination of these fields, Magana hopes to help people learn from the mistakes of the past.

“I want to see if we can support that through political science,” Magana said. “I feel confident with my perspective of the world.”

Adilenne Ramirez, 18, will be attending Cal Poly on Sept. 12. She was born in Mexico but grew up in the Salinas Valley. She plans to study agriculture and environmental plant science, but she also wants to fulfill her prerequisites for medical school.

“I’m very excited about being independent,” Ramirez said, adding that she wants to show her friends and family that she can be on her own. “I can always drive back and seek support from my friends, family and mentors.”

Scott Funk, 18, will be attending Chico State University on Aug. 26 and plans to major in visualization and game design. Funk said it is possible that he will seek a teaching degree as well. Funk’s mom will also be attending nursing school at the same time as her son.

“Whether it be teaching or game design,” he said, “I want to help create new experiences and get new perspectives on things.”

Gonzales Mayor Maria Orozco said the program is an investment in the city’s youth. Orozco added that there is still room for more banners. To schedule a photo shoot, Orozco said to contact the City at 831-675-5000.

“Our youth is the future generation and we really take that to heart,” she said. “It’s a big accomplishment, not only to finish school, but to continue on and continue your career goals whatever they may be.”

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