OAKLEY -- It was a day of celebrations, accomplishments and inspiration.

Freedom High recently honored its senior students, who are headed to their next big campus.

College-bound grads were applauded during the Oakley school's first Letter of Intent Signing Day.

"This was truly a spectacular day," said Erik Faulkner, principal. "Seeing the accomplishments of those students, who completed the rigorous college course work and such a high level, was inspiring. Even more so was watching the freshman, sophomores and juniors cheering each of the students on throughout the program.

"I was extremely happy with the way it turned out. I could not have been more proud of our student body and those who attended."

The special assembly honored 138 students, who are moving on to such acclaimed schools as Cal, UCLA, Davis, Ohio State, University of Washington, UOP, NYU, Notre Dame, Brigham Young to name a few.

The big event included all college-bound seniors moving to a 4-year school signing symbolic letters of intent. It also included a short program of speeches, followed by each student announcing his/her college. And, it featured the school's choir "that rocked the house with college fight songs that fired everyone up."

Among the crowd of 2,500 students, friends and families, were LUHSD board president Joanne Byer, superintendent Eric Volta, assistant sup of HR Denise Rugani, assistant sup of educational services Mary Vinciguerra, assistant sup of administrative services Gene Clare, Erica Rodriguez (Assemblyman Jim Frazier rep) and Oakley councilwoman Diane Burgis.


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Also, on hand was Greg Hetrick, Delta Vista Middle principal, who wrote to Faulkner after the event.

"I would like to applaud all of you for your efforts and participation in the day's event. I am proud to not only have a child in attendance at Freedom but to have the opportunity to send close to 300 new students your way each year. This event today is truly a feather in the very nice cap of Freedom ... I congratulate you all."

Selena Gonzalez, who heads to UC-Santa Cruz, told Faulkner "It was nice to get acknowledged ... It was an obvious pat on the back that was appreciated."

Howard-bound Nenwon Gbilia said "It was a great event ... It would be nice to see it continue at Freedom as a new tradition. Hopefully, it inspired the underclassmen to want to go to a university."

Faulkner hopes this inaugural event not only showed "gratitude toward the efforts of our seniors, but inspire our younger students to future academic success."

In addition to this assembly, Faulkner also led his annual Principal's Breakfast event honoring "all UC qualifiers regardless of their future intent.

"Our school's goal is to educate students to their fullest potential (to be) ready for college or career," he said.

While Faulkner values these types of assemblies, he feels the commencement ceremony is the place "to honor all those who have successfully met the graduation requirements. It is an honor for those students to walk across the stage and receive their diploma in front of 6,000 audience members. ... (It) truly honors those students who have completed and excelled at Freedom."

Contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net.