MONTEBELLO— The Montebello Unified School District bestowed diplomas upon 147 graduates from the Applied Technology Center (ATC) June 16.
The students, who completed coursework from one of the school’s four project-based learning pathways, represent the Applied Technology Center’s first graduating class.
The center, which opened its doors in 2011, is unique in the district as all of its students participate in one of four career-related pathways. It also differs in that it does not offer some of the traditional high school experiences, like athletics or band.
Instead, students immerse themselves in Culinary Hospitality Educational Foundations, Architecture Construction Engineering, Public and Legal Services or Health Sciences pathways receiving academic instruction that satisfies high school graduation requirements while gaining real-world experience.
“Each graduate fully embodies courage and tenacity for not only making it across the finish line to receive diplomas, but for making such an incomparable investment into their academic, professional and personal futures by choosing the Applied Technology Center,” school board President Edgar Cisneros said during the ceremony. “I am honored and humbled to be here today celebrating each of them as they make history and make their mark in the world.”
Principal Sterling Schubert proudly honored the students for their commitment and passion and for understanding the legacy they are leaving behind. He also served as master of ceremonies for the ceremony, which featured comments from Cisneros and Superintendent of Education Susanna Contreras Smith.
Valedictorian Elena Rodarte, Salutatorian Madeline Curiel, student body President Victoria Nazario and student speaker Anthony Ramirez also addressed the graduating class. Jim May, a Pathways mentor and coach, offered the keynote address.
“I made it a personal goal in middle school to work hard and be valedictorian one day,” Rodarte said. His father was part of the construction team that helped build the school. “I am so proud and honored to be the first-ever valedictorian of the Applied Technology Center.”
The students were joined by family members, school board members and district administrators, teachers and facilitators, as well as special guest Edward James Olmos, a graduate of Montebello High School.
Also in attendance were the student-selected conductors — teachers and mentors who inspired and guided the graduates through their academic and personal journeys.
“It has long been our commitment within Montebello Unified to ensure student success, offering appropriate and diverse instructional programs to all students,” Superintendent of Education Susanna Contreras Smith said. “The ATC seeks to provide high school students with a significant competitive edge and we are so proud of the graduates here today.”
This year, the school teamed up with local colleges and educational partners – East Los Angeles and Rio Hondo colleges – to offer nine college courses for college credit on campus. The courses were taught by college professors and are expected to be offered again next year.
In April, the Culinary Hospitality Educational Foundations Pathway opened Bistro XV — a student-led eatery and capstone project, dedicated to the class of 2015.
In addition, the school’s sleek, modern design has made it ideal to host district functions, such as the inaugural Montebello Science Fair in May.