Interviews With Graduating Seniors

Interviews With Graduating Seniors

[Editor’s Note: This is the fifth of a five-part series on the Point Arena schools written by District Superintendent Warren Galletti. This column consists of excerpts from Warren’s interviews with four PAHS graduating seniors about some of the changes they’ve made since freshman year, their observations about the school, and recommendations they’d give to incoming freshmen.]

Warren:

Of the last four years, what was the toughest for you?

Isela: 

The year the protest happened, the end of my freshman year. We were wondering if we’d even have finals. 

Eliz: 

Sophomore year, and the last week of freshman year when a lot of the teachers were let go. We were used to them. After the walkout, it was unstable. 

Matt:

Sophomore year. I didn’t have to put as much work in, and I kind of fell behind academically. It was a little rough with the admin moving around, and teachers in their first year not used to teaching.

Warren:

Have you changed much since then? 

Matt:

Definitely, a significant change. I’m now really thinking about my life, taking responsibility. Before it was chaotic. I felt like I had plenty of time.

Isela: 

Wiser? I believe so. Yeah, I have more confidence in my abilities, mainly in English. Mr. Kramer really knew how to help with our AP scores. He taught us what we needed to know, what was really on the AP exam.

Eliz: 

In my freshman year, I was super involved in sports: cheerleading, volleyball, basketball. Since then, I’ve been getting ready for college, wanting to focus, prioritize.

Jackson: 

Yes, everything about me, what I wanted to do. Now, I know I want to do — something connected with biology. I like studying biology. The subject ignites me.

Warren:

Did a teacher at PAHS spark this interest?

Jackson:

Roger (Mr. Little), something about his class drew me in. He was project-based, tons of different ones. We took bacteria and made it glow in the dark, used gummy bears to model proteins. He’d have a conversation (at the beginning of class) talking about everything, and draw you in that way.  

Warren:

Matt, was there a teacher who made a difference for you? 

Matt: 

Mr. Coles’ class, computer science. 

Warren:

You’re heading to UC Santa Cruz, the Banana Slugs?  Nice, Will you play a sport?

Matt: 

I might participate in the triathlon.

Warren:

What about you, Isela?

Isela: 

Probably, Lillian McFarland. She had been here since I was a freshman. She’s really positive. I can go to her when I have questions. I had her all four years.

Warren:

Eliz, any thoughts about how the school has changed? 

Eliz: 

Kids used to wander around before class. Teachers couldn’t keep them in class. It’s a little bit more focused, I think.

Matt: 

Everything’s a lot more stabilized. People aren’t all over the place. 

Isela: 

Last year our principal, we rarely saw him on campus. Mr. Wilkes is always on campus, checking on people. Ms. Miller, our counselor, knows what she's doing. I like the teachers this year.

Jackson: 

The school is more organized. There were challenges last year: new teachers, instability here, a different counselor, lots of subs. 

Warren:

You’ve had a new principal and new counselor every year you’ve been here. How did you prepare for your future?

Isela: 

I couldn’t connect with the counselors, so I did most of it by myself.  I plan on becoming an immigration attorney. It’s my background. I’ve always been interested in immigration.

Warren: 

Makes me proud A long road, stay the course.

Eliz: 

I came into the counselor’s office to get help, but there was a different counselor every year. This year, I wouldn’t be where I am without Ms. Miller (the counselor). She helped me with my college letters and scholarship applications.

Warren:

How many scholarship applications?

Eliz: 

Nine or ten.

Warren:

Matt, do you have any advice for Ms. Miller, the counselor, Mr. Wilkes, the principal, or for myself as superintendent?

Matt: 

Things are going pretty good. Mr. Wilkes was a hard guy, at first. Now it’s going pretty good.

Eliz:

Tell the teachers to make their students be on time, not slack as much, hold students accountable. And start to advertise college a little more. My dad always threw me out in front; he wanted me to talk for myself. Some students need more help than I did. Get their parents more involved.

Warren;

Advice for incoming freshmen? Help them out, Jack.

Jackson: 

Do your homework. You don’t want to procrastinate. Do it as soon as possible.

Matt: 

Start thinking about your future. It may seem like it’s a mile away, but it comes really fast. Make decisions.

Eliz: 

Keep priorities straight. Sports are a big thing. They take a lot of time. My classmates would say they don’t have time for homework. (I’d ask them) what are you putting in front: sports or school work?

Isela:

Take classes seriously. Don’t get behind or you end up giving up and feeling overwhelmed. Stay with it every day. Don’t get the overwhelmed feeling!

Here's a bit more about 

Matt, Isela, Jackson, and Elizabeth.

Matthew Eldenberger: Ran and/or played cross-country, track, baseball, wrestling, basketball, golf, triathlon, (never did tennis, but wanted to), built his own computer and electric scooter. A builder, inventor, surfer, fisherman, mountain biker, diver, heading to UC Santa Cruz to study computer science.

Isela Gaona: Cheerleader, Associated Student Body member, received a Scholar Athletic Jacket for high GPA and excellent attendance record, plans to be an immigration attorney. Was UC/CSU eligible, chose Santa Rosa Junior College, transferring to Sonoma State within a year, majoring in criminal justice.

Jackson King: In concurrent enrollment with UC Scout, taking AP classes online (favorite, so far, environmental science). Played varsity basketball, received a Scholar Athletic Jacket for high GPA and excellent attendance record, heading to Sonoma State to study biology.

Elizabeth Vazquez: A cheerleader, played volleyball, basketball, has over 700 hours of volunteer service. Organized her own fundraiser to attend a Boston-based medical workshop. Wants to be a nurse, maybe physician, heading to Chico State, majoring in pre-nursing.

Warren: And, to the community: I would like to thank our community for generously helping our graduating seniors by providing them with well-earned scholarships!

Sincerely,

Warren Galletti

Superintendent,  Point Arena Schools

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