Hillcrest High School celebrated the class of 2022 with commencement May 26, and 324 candidates crossed the stage.
The festivities began with remarks from principal Joseph Sotelo.
Sotelo first started with the class of 2022 as principal of Franklin Elementary School in 2015, when the now graduating class was entering middle school. Then, in 2018, when the class moved on to high school across the street, Sotelo transferred with them, becoming their high school principal.
“The reason I’ll never forget this class is because many of us began this journey together,” Sotelo said.
Hillcrest High School graduating students earned a campus record-breaking $12.08 million in college scholarships this year, with 95% of the class completing a total 1,572 college applications.
Sotelo cited the high standards for student participation at Hillcrest High School before introducing senior class president Anna-Princilla Sido.
“As this phase of your life ends and a new one begins, I encourage you to never settle, never fear, and never give up,” Sotelo said.
When arriving at high school, purpose and routine were created for the students, but now that they are graduating, it is up to them, Sido said.
“Now, we have to make our own way,” Sido said. “It won’t be easy. We will experience loss, anxiety, heartache, and so much more, but I believe we can overcome our struggles.”
Salutatorian Yehoshua Aguilar Garcia was up next, sharing that each student has had some form of impact on the lives of others, contributing to their success during high school.
“I want to take this opportunity to say that every single student here has demonstrated that they have what they need to succeed,” he said.
Valedictorian Bryce Gibson then took the podium, with the premise that they’re “all Hillcrest panthers,” regardless of their previous experiences.
“I’ve seen a diverse group of kids learn to co-exist and work together,” he said. “I love how whether you’re an athlete, in the band, in theater, or on the robotics team, we have all come together to support each other.”
He said the biggest lesson he’s learned is that it’s important for people to believe in themselves the same way other people do while recognizing students of all backgrounds.