LANCASTER — A record 735 high school seniors were honored Tuesday night for maintaining at least a 4.0 grade-point average over all four years of high school.
Students and their parents filed the H.W. Hunter Pavilion at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds for the celebration.
“This is by far the smartest crowd that I’ve gotten to speak to since I got to Washington, and I spend a lot of time in big crowds in Washington,” keynote speaker Rep. Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce, said.
The freshman Congresswoman talked to the teens about their power to create change.
“You can succeed. You can change your community. You can change your world all from here. We’re at a critical moment in our country, and I believe that success can be defined in many ways. It all starts with defining your own purpose and allowing yourself to always reach new and bigger goals,” Hill said.
Teens from Antelope Valley Learning Academy, Antelope Valley, Desert Christian, Eastside, Highland, Knight, Lancaster, Littlerock, Palmdale, Paraclete, Quartz Hill and SOAR high schools as well as the Palmdale Aerospace Academy maintained cumulative grade-point averages of 4.0 or higher through four years of high school to earn
The MacNeal Foundation also presented the inaugural Jenny Parks Memorial Scholarship award recipients.
Parks was a kindergarten teacher at Anaverde Hills Elementary School who was killed in the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting massacre.
“We wanted to acknowledge those students who gave back to their school and their community through volunteering and being kind to others,” said Paul MacNeal, vice president of the foundation, and Parks’ uncle.
Out of 56 applicants, they chose five finalists. Quartz Hill High School senior Christabel Odoi received the first place $20,000 scholarship.
“I’m honored and scared and happy at the same time,” Odoi said afterward. “It’s just a bunch of emotions.”
Highland High School senior Angie Torrico received a $5,000 scholarship for second place.
Three received honorable mentions — Nalley De La Rosa, Highland High School; Cynthia Reyes, Eastsie High School; and Yershanie Madrid, Palmdale High School.
The event was put on by the AV Fair & Event Center, which features the Antelope Valley Joint Powers Authority, the Antelope Valley Fair Association, the 50th District Agriculture Association and the Antelope Valley Friends of the Fair.
Thirty local businesses and individuals also contributed scholarships ranging from $250 to $2,000. The $2,000 scholarship from Supervisor Kathryn Barger went to Thomas Cancio of Paraclete High School.
“Supervisor Barger thinks that this is a wonderful way to honor students and their accomplishments,” Assistant Field Deputy Charles Bostwick.
The University of Antelope Valley also awarded a four-year, $60,000 scholarship.
Prior to the ceremony, Palmdale High School senior Amy Williamson said she appreciated the recognition.
“It means a lot because I’ve worked so hard for four years in all my classes, taking AP and honors, making sure that I got good grades,” Williamson said.
“It’s kind of important, not just to me, but to my family — it means more to them. Just being on top of my class and showing all the hard work that we put into it kind of pays off in their eyes,” Knight High School senior Marvin Sanchez said.
“It just really means all of my hard work has paid off. I think all of us here that go to AV High School, the school has such a bad reputation around town, and for us to prove those people wrong that have ever doubted people that come from Antelope Valley High just means the world to me,” AV High scholar-athlete Victoria Jones said.
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