Class of 2024 graduates from Mountain View High

Class of 2024 graduates from Mountain View High

Words of wisdom are shared, students receive awards.

From left, Brianna Rodriguez receives the Citizenship Award from teacher May Ko.

From left, Brianna Rodriguez receives the Citizenship Award from teacher May Ko.

Mountain View High graduations are unlike those of other schools. That’s because its students receive a fresh start in life there and a chance for a brighter future.

Many of them have come from other countries, not speaking a word of English, or have left untenable situations at other schools. But once at Mountain View, they thrive and grow. So their graduation ceremony last Monday, June 3, at Centreville High, was a particular cause for celebration.

“This day is the culmination of years of school,” said Principal Catherine Stone to the graduating seniors. “Choose a moment you want to remember from this day’s ceremony. Maybe it’s walking in to ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ listening to your classmates give their speeches, walking across the stage to get your diploma, or walking out of the auditorium as a high-school graduate.

Faculty Award winner Jhoana Grageda receives her diploma from Principal Catherine Stone. 


“Maybe you want to remember the pride your family and friends express as they celebrate with you today, or the pride you have in yourself. But no matter what, I hope you remember this feeling. You’ve worked hard to get here, and your journey wasn’t always the easiest. In fact, you may not have always believed graduation was in your future.”

Stressing that grit is the one characteristic that predicts success more than anything else, Stone defined it as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina and sticking with your future, day in and day out, for years – and working hard to make that future a reality. Each of you has grit. You stuck with it, and you’ll have to stick with it for your future goals, too.”

She told the grads that goals are important, and “even small ones help us get to where we want to be. Set a goal and follow it through to completion. And remember that no one gets there without help from someone else. Sometimes, though, when things aren’t going how you’d hoped, the best thing is to take a break. Then when you’re ready, get right back to it.” 

Stone said family isn’t just blood relatives, and the family the students found at Mountain View will always be there for them. “Treat everyone with love and respect,” she told them. “You can achieve great things through hard work, confidence and resilience. Celebrate your success but thank the people who helped you along the way. Each of you has had an impact on the Mountain View community. Congratulations, Class of 2024 – your family is proud of you.”

Then came speeches from the two grad speakers (see sidebar), followed by the recognition of all the graduates who received scholarships. “Since 1999, the Mountain View Foundation has awarded over $900,000 in scholarships to over 570 students, making it possible for our graduates to pursue their post-graduate dreams,” said Assistant Principal Kim Witeck. “This year, our students were awarded $52,750 in scholarship money. We are very grateful to our donors.”

Next, special awards were presented to three, deserving students chosen by the teachers:

* The Citizenship Award is given to a student who’s helped build a positive school community. ESOL teacher gave it to Brianna Rodriguez.

* The Personal Achievement Award goes to a student who succeeded academically and personally, despite having adult responsibilities, such as a job or a child. Math teacher Jennifer Lee gave it to Kelvin Fajardo Cordon.

* The Faculty Award is given to the student achieving the greatest academic and personal success, despite significant obstacles. Before presenting it, ESOL teacher Leslie Chekin said those receiving this honor “best exemplify the Mountain View motto of Family, Love and Respect. The June 2024 recipient of this award is not only an outstanding scholar but is one of our most gifted students. Congratulations, Jhoana Grageda.”

Coming here from Bolivia, said Chekin, Grageda “had to learn a completely new language from scratch and adapt to a new culture. Yet the hardest part of Jhoana’s education wasn’t mastering English or her course work – which she did – it was that she’s here alone, without a support network. And she’s been working full time to support herself and assist her family back home.

“She had to be a life force in two different parts of the world at once – which required enormous discipline, resilience and moral character. She has all those qualities in abundance. The best testaments to Jhoana’s accomplishments at Mountain View are in the words of her teachers.” 

Chekin quoted math teacher Tina Akula, who wrote, “Jhoana is truly unique. From the start, there was no math problem she couldn’t solve. Moreover, she saw the beauty in numbers.” Likewise, art teacher Theresa Dijoseph described Grageda as a perfectionist in everything, especially art, visualizing her ideas and easily translating them into multiple media.

“The quality that many of us most love about Jhoana is her humility for her teachers, peers and staff,” said Chekin. “She has used her enormous gifts to contribute to our school community and raise the bar in every class she has taken, while always giving credit to others and being grateful for the opportunities she’s been given.”

“Having overcome many challenges, Jhoana passionately supports the rights of others – particularly, young women,” continued Chekin. “In an essay on adversity, she wrote, ‘I am learning the lesson that it sometimes is better to make your voice heard than stay silent, waiting for a change. When we face adversity, it is important to remember that – no matter how many times we lose strength – there will always be a new day to try again. Giving up is not an option.’ Jhoana, don’t ever give up. Keep being Jhoana and making this country and world a more beautiful place. We love you.”