Senior-made petition advocates for a graduation venue change

Seniors+Erik+Diaz+and+Associated+Student+Body+president+Jasmine+Huerta+began+a+petition+on+change.org+to+move+Bonita+Vista+Highs+graduation+location+from+Hilltop+High+to+Southwestern+College.+The+petition+has+amassed+723+signatures+with+the+next+goal+being+1000+signatures.

Brandon Giles

Seniors Erik Diaz and Associated Student Body president Jasmine Huerta began a petition on change.org to move Bonita Vista High’s graduation location from Hilltop High to Southwestern College. The petition has amassed 723 signatures with the next goal being 1000 signatures.

Stephanie Liang, A&C copy editor

With the class of 2022’s graduation coming up on June 1, it was announced to seniors at Bonita Vista High (BVH) that the ceremony would be held at Hilltop High School (HH) rather than the traditional venue, Southwestern College (SWC).

Upon hearing the news, seniors Erik Diaz and Associated Student Body (ASB) president Jasmine Huerta were against the decision.

Huerta and Diaz decided to take action to try to convince SUHSD to change the venue to SWC. While Huerta talked to various teachers and staff, Diaz created an online petition for friends and family to sign. Many of their classmates agreed with the actions they were taking to try to make a difference.

“I had a lot of people text me, thanking me and Jasmine for doing this, because a lot of people really hate it,” Diaz said.

Huerta agreed by adding, “Nobody wants it at Hilltop, so I think Erik and I giving it 110 percent is the best we can do.” Although this announcement came as a surprise to students, BVH principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D., stated that the class of 2021’s graduation ceremony was HH and that it was a nice venue for the ceremony.

“They have plenty of seating, and there’s a nice breeze that goes through there so it’s not as hot as other campuses,” Del Rosario said. “It’s very freeway friendly. In that respect, it’s convenient.”

Despite the positives Del Rosario stated, Huerta and Diaz put in effort to convince SUHSD to change the venue to SWC. Huerta took action as ASB president and wanted to utilize her position to try to make a change. She talked to Del Rosario about the potential location change, and Diaz spent time planning and making the petition.

“I had the idea for a week, and then I had a draft, but I wanted to make sure I got my information right [by] asking [Mr. Alvarez and Ms. Ada],” Diaz said. “As soon as I finished the final draft, I told all my close friends to repost it, and I posted it on my story on Snapchat and Instagram.”

Diaz created an online petition for fellow seniors, parents, friends and family to sign in order to help advocate for the venue change. The petition spread and was quickly shared. Diaz’s goal was to get approximately 400 signatures, which is around the number of students in the graduating senior class. Currently, the petition has 720 signatures.

“One person started noticing it and then as other students were reposting it, it became a big thing. We had over 300 signs within a day. That same day, I showed Dr. Del Rosario the petition and he said that if we sent it to him that he’d go over it with the district,” Huerta said.

According to Diaz, having graduation at SWC is significant to him because it’s the venue where his brothers graduated from. Furthermore, a lot of his family members were able to come and show their support.

“Both of my brother’s graduations were at Southwestern. It was a really fun time because we had tons of family,” Diaz said. “It’s just going to be sad thinking about how I’m not going to be able to have the same memories my brother did when he had his graduation and how happy he was when everybody in his life was able to show up.”

Huerta agreed with Diaz’s statement, how family is important to the graduating seniors, and she talked to Del Rosario about “how it’s not fair.” Furthermore, due to COVID-19, only a limited number of guests are allowed to attend this year’s graduation ceremony.

“Having your family there is a big thing, so I know a lot of students’ concerns is that their immediate family isn’t even able to be there. The fact they can’t have their whole family there, it’s really sad,” Huerta said. “It’s sad that we have to have our graduation at Hilltop because we get limited guests and it’s not even our home field.”

Having your family there is a big thing, so I know a lot of students’ concerns is that their immediate family isn’t even able to be there. The fact they can’t have their whole family there, it’s really sad”

— ASB President and senior Jasmine Huerta

However, Del Rosario mentioned there was a district decision which stated only six guests per graduate would be allowed to attend, meaning that the venue wouldn’t change the number of family members graduates get to invite.

“The district was being proactive and as equitable as possible. They were contemplating four guests per graduate. Regardless of the venue, that was going to be the number of guests per graduate,” Del Rosario said.

In addition to the limited number of guests, Del Rosario stated that another reason for the venue being at HH was for equity reasons. As BVH isn’t the only school graduating, the decision was made by SUHSD with fairness in mind.

“We’re one of many schools that are graduating. There’s other factors about equity and fairness for other schools that maybe would also love to be at Southwestern,” Del Rosario said.“Honestly,  it would be highly unlikely that at this point they will consider a change in venue. What often is not seen is the amount of planning that goes into these events, including the stage and the sound and announcements that go out to guests that are sometimes traveling from all over the country.”