Santa Barbara Graduates Share Memories in a COVID Year

Santa Barbara County's High School Seniors of 2020 Remember the Bests of These Times

The graduating classes from Santa Barbara County high schools have had a senior year that they could never have expected. So far there have been no proms, no special senior celebrations, no hanging out with their friends. Even their graduation ceremonies have been disrupted. But 2020 is the only high school senior year they will ever know, so we asked students at all the schools in the South County to submit a photograph or artwork that best records a happy memory of their senior year. In the next few pages are a few selected examples of their work. One theme is often repeated — the strength and kindness of friendship.

Sebastian Tellez

San Marcos High School

Friends are what made my high school experience memorable.

Yao Bi

Dos Pueblos High School

When the Dos Pueblos Concert Band was selected to be part of a youth performance at Carnegie Hall, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The fact that I played there at the age of 18 is pretty surreal regardless of the context. And one of the great parts of that New York City trip was waking up very early and walking around Central Park with my friends from the band. This photo is of some of my friends standing on top of one of the park’s many boulders. For me, it embodies our ability to realize opportunities, to make our own decisions, and to make the most out of the limited time we’re given. I’d like to give a huge thank-you to our band director, Mr. Daniel Garske, because without him, this trip would not have been possible.

Stoney Yoos

Dos Pueblos High School

I took this photo on the first day school was canceled. That day I was confused as to what would happen in the future. But even in a slump, I forced myself to take pictures and was able to capture a beautiful rainbow at sunset. On top of that I parked in a spot that can ticket, but when I got back, I had no ticket. This image displays the joy of random moments during my senior year and how, no matter the event or circumstance, there is always beauty behind everything.

Kailey Quezada

San Marcos High School

Back when times were easy, with no worries in mind, the San Marcos football games were the best place to be on Friday nights. Before any of the chaos, this night was a time to unify as Royals one last time. 

Kristopher Boris

VADA Academy, Santa Barbara High School

Although our senior year of high school was disrupted by school closures and COVID-19, the first six or seven months allowed us some memorable experiences. Pictured are some of my positive memories — the artmaking I got to do as part of the Visual Arts and Design Academy, and gardening before school in my Small Scale Food Production class. I am thankful for my friends, laughing and studying with them every day. This is an uncertain time for the arts especially, so the importance of being visibly supportive of artists is also something I want to convey.

Alyssa Rodriguez Gonzalez

Santa Barbara High School

This photo sums up my senior year. I was dealing with some personal problems and some boy problems (you know, typical girl life). So I asked my mom if I could go to the beach and take some sunset photos. The calm of the silhouetted palm trees is in contrast to the sun, the sky, and the clouds. My pose represents how crazy this year was for me and for everyone as well who was in their final year of high school. But the overall feeling while taking this photo was of being happy at that moment and having time for myself.

Elizabeth Valdivia

Lompoc High School

This photo is a positive memory of my life during my senior year because it was our first competition of the season for dance line. We were performing in Palmdale, and I was the soloist. I’m the one in red. I was nervous yet excited to perform. I couldn’t believe it would be my last and my first competition of my senior year. Now I will always have this memory of performing with my dance team.

Zoe Solis

Alta Vista High School

These two girls to the right of me are my best friends. They were with me through my high school journey and never failed to stand by my side. Thank you both for dealing with all the ups and downs that come with high school and always knowing the right thing to say. I am forever grateful for our trio of a friendship.

Jasmine Shanel Ramirez

San Marcos High School

The start to my senior year was amazing! I was the dance guard captain at San Marcos. After one competition, we stayed behind to enjoy the beautiful sunset, and I realized no trophy or score could make me happier than being with my band and guard family. I’m going to miss seeing all the lovely
parents who spent a crazy amount of hours trying to help us. The passion that our teacher, Mr. Michael Kiyoi, has for music is amazing, and the staff truly do care about us. They were the push I needed to grow. I can’t wait to see what’s next in life! 

Charlie Parker

Dos Pueblos High School

This photo just makes me smile … it’s SO GOOD! I just love the surprisingly vibrant, tropical colors. This was taken two days after my birthday over Asilomar State Beach. It reminds me of how mistakes lead to new opportunities. The photo was an initial mistake, as I meant to record a video of the surfer, so I scrapped it to the reject bin. A few weeks later, I revisited the reject bin and found this hidden gem. Now it’s one of my favorite photos. 

Miguel Sanchez

MAD Academy, Santa Barbara High School

I took this photo on Friday, March 27, the last day before all school classes were canceled. It turned out to be the last party my friends and I were able to have together before we graduated. The photo is of two of my friends, Isabelle and Connie, in a moment that, for me, captures the chaos and the excitement of our senior year, the last year we would be all together. It was a time when my friends and I were still free of worries and responsibilities before going off into the scary world.

Nathan Abrajan

Dos Pueblos High School 

 In my senior year I took a photography class, and my love for a camera started. I remember taking this picture for a project, and honestly it was one of my favorite pictures because it captured the city. 

Jayne Hernandez

Dos Pueblos High School

I chose this photo of me because it was taken the beginning of my senior year. It’s crazy that four years of my life flew by, and now I’m getting ready for college and living my independent life. I will always cherish the memories of my high school career. I think that it’s really amazing to see everyone I was with in kindergarten are now graduating with me in 2020. Wow, we have come so far. I would say I can’t wait, but I can wait to see where we all are in the future! I wish the best for the class of 2020. We may have not got the graduation we wanted, but our schools worked hard to give us a graduation at least. We got this!

Julian Rivera

Santa Barbara High School

I was working in my front garden one morning when I noticed the neighbors in the pink house across the way were having a meeting with a friend who was sitting a noticeable distance apart. This was because they were social distancing. I was encouraged by an assignment in my photojournalism class and my curiosity to go over and take a photo. An interesting moment from senior year.

Congratulations to the historic class of 2020!

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