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Desert Oasis: Fernandez experienced scholastic transformation

June 14, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

Like many graduates of El Centro's Desert Oasis High School, Diana Fernandez wasn't succeeding in a traditional high school setting when she came to Desert Oasis.

At Southwest High School, Fernandez was behind in credits, failing some classes and suffering from a lack of motivation to attend school. She transferred to Desert Oasis as a sophomore.

Three years later, it's a different story.

As she received her high school diploma during Wednesday night's ceremony at Southwest High School's theater, she did so near the top of her class.

Fernandez, whose grade-point average is over 3.0, was even considered for high honors, said Desert Oasis Principal Mike Welisch.

Fernandez credits many at Desert Oasis for assisting her scholastic transformation.

The personal attention she received from instructors such as AVID coordinator Maria Mendez helped motivate Fernandez and kept her from falling through the cracks, Fernandez said.


"I think she's going to be someone who's going to go on to college, whether it's IVC or some other place, and do well," Welisch said.

The soft-spoken Fernandez told a reporter she'd prefer to be the one asking questions.

"I'm going to IVC. I want to study journalism," Fernandez said.

"I like to ask questions. I like to interview people," she said, adding she'd like to work in television.

That dream, and the dreams of her 150 fellow graduates, seemed that much closer to becoming reality Wednesday night.

Class valedictorian and student of the year Miguel Luna shared his experience of overcoming obstacles to succeed.

When Luna, 18, came to El Centro and Desert Oasis from Mexicali in January 2000, he spoke no English.

"At first high school was very hard because I didn't understand anything," he told the audience in perfect English.

Through hard work and with the help of a staff that was "always concerned for our well-being," Luna is grateful to graduate.

"This is an honor that will motivate me in college and beyond," he said.

Sarah Anderson, class salutatorian, told of hard times when she first came to Desert Oasis.

"At first I saw no point in coming to high school," Sarah, 17, said.

That changed as she attended Desert Oasis.

"I know life doesn't always work as you want it to," Sarah told the crowd, yet added that she maintains "high hopes" nonetheless.

Central Union High School District Superintendent Richard Fragale invoked the inspiration of Helen Keller in his address to the graduates.

When asked if there was anything worse than not having sight, Helen Keller said yes, having sight but no vision was worse, Fragale said.

Fragale congratulated the seniors for having the vision to graduate and challenged and encouraged them to continue setting goals for themselves.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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