Sada's advice: Never take parents for granted


June 16, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Santiago Sada, a graduate of Calexico High School's 2001 class, learned a valuable lesson during his freshman year.

It wasn't taught by any of his teachers or gleaned from a textbook.

"I learned to never take my parents for granted," Sada, 18, said.

His father, Guillermo Sada, died of cancer in January 1998.

The loss of his father's company, guidance and strength had a devastating

impact on Sada's life.

"He had always been there to tell me right from wrong and warn me about the consequences of my actions," Sada said.

Following his father's death, he started hanging with a "bad crowd," skipped school and stopped caring about himself and others.

"I made some bad decisions," Sada said, leaving specifics in the past.

Eduardo Rivera, Calexico High class of 1966 and commencement speaker at the Calexico High graduation ceremony Friday night, told Sada and the 399 other graduates listening to his speech that they "need to have the courage to make wrong decisions."


In a booming voice that reverberated through the metal stands holding thousands, he added, "You can correct wrong decisions."

Sada has tried.

He was kicked out of Calexico High as a sophomore and sent to Aurora High School.

There he started to focus on his education and was readmitted to Calexico High for his junior year.

When he came back he was a different person.

He met a girl, fell in love listening to El Coyote's "Que Casualidad" and started having friends over to his mother's apartment to watch Al Pacino movies instead of roaming the streets at all hours of the night.

He studied hard during his junior year and made an effort to meet new people and learn new things.

A few of his teachers, Enrique Cervantes, Ken Price and Casey Reschert, helped him a lot, he said.

He credits his girlfriend, Eliza Pereda, and his friend Luis Garcia for getting him out of the pit he had dug for himself.

"High school is a lot easier if you have support," he said.

Calexico High class of 2001 valedictorian Enrique Cervantes noticed the change.

"Yeah, he used to be a tough guy but lately he's been cool," Cervantes said.

Sada concedes he gave Cervantes and other academic achievers a hard time.

He isn't proud of his past. He has tried to rebuild the bridges he torched with his teachers, his peers and his mother.

"She cries every time I tell her I'm graduating," Sada said.

He added most of his friends probably thought he would be in county jail instead of decked out in a gown and mortarboard.

But there he was.

He sat with his classmates on the grass of Ward Field amid a sea of garnet and gold.

After a performance of "Time to Say Goodbye" by the school choir, he listened as co-salutatorian Lucia Macias made her speech.

Macias, the first member of her family who will be attending college, warned her classmates about the tough times in life that would blindside them.

Sada knows about getting blindsided.

Earlier Friday, the son reminisced about his father.

He said his father was a "true Mexican" who sported a big mustache, invariably shiny boots and squared shirts.

He recalled his father's work with the community and how he established the Calexico Youth Basketball League.

Smiling, he told the story of his dad's red Chuck Taylors that turned pink because he wore the shoes so long.

He smiled at the bittersweet memory.

The speech that followed Macias' addressed the circumstances of Sada's life and the lives of too many other graduates.

It was given by co-salutatorian Lisa Tittle.

"High school hasn't been what we thought," Tittle said.

Sada looked on somberly.

She added: "Sometimes it has been better and sometimes it has been worse."

She thanked God, however, that the classmates were all together one last time.

Sada and his peers applauded the sentiment.

Cervantes followed Tittle to the podium to deliver his address.

Before he did, he shook the hand of every person on the dais.

Teachers, administrators and honored guests smiled as the lean and confident young man glad-handed all.

Cervantes congratulated the graduates on their passage from adolescence to adulthood and told them to seize this time in their lives.

Rivera followed Cervantes, exhorting the graduates to "have the courage to excel."

He used repetition and pacing throughout his speech to drive home the word "courage."

"Have the courage to succeed in life but always remember that success is measured by the amount of respect you have for yourselves," he said.

Rivera, an attorney and graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, told the graduates to have the courage to battle poverty and tyranny.

He capped his speech by making a wish on behalf of the graduates.

"May the stars in the sky sparkle down on your dreams," Rivera said.

One of Sada's favorite memories of the time spent with his father are their "camping" trips.

"We'd get some sleeping bags and drag 'em out into the front yard," Sada said.

"We'd lay out there for hours, talk and look at the stars."

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles