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Getting to Know the Class of 2020’s Public School Week Award Winners

“Our school district, PTA, and the school volunteers tried to make this the most special experience it could be for us,” Vincent Kloes, 17, said graciously of his virtual graduation from Wilcox High School.

Kloes was a student representative for the Santa Clara Board of Education. Through this role, he explained that he successfully advocated to have the district’s new high school campus be named after Kathleen MacDonald, who has been with Wilcox as a teacher and administrator for over 50 years.

Kloes is one of this year’s winners for the Santa Clara Unified School District’s Public School Week Awards. A few more newly graduated seniors among this year’s winners described their accomplishments, expressed gratitude, and gave advice to the Class of 2020.

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One of Santa Clara High School’s winners, Jonathan Vergonio, 18, expressed appreciation for his leadership advisor, Ms. Erin Brown, who lifted him up through difficult times.

“As ASB (Associated Student Body) President, I wanted to work on inclusivity in the school by being a leader in the Acts of Random Kindness Club,” Vergonio said. “I was able to help propose the first Acts of Kindness Week at the school.”

Wilson High School’s student winner is Vanessa Hernandez, 18, who is grateful for the staff at Wilson for their support. Hernandez has spoken at middle schools about being a young single mother.

“My main objective is to teach the middle school kids that being a single parent is not the easiest thing, especially when you don’t have support from your family members or the father of the baby,” Hernandez said. “I want to spread awareness that if you’re going to have sex, you need to use protection to avoid pregnancy and avoid STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases).”

One of Mission Early College High School’s winners, Chaziel O’Neal, 19, advised the Class of 2020 to know how to love, care, and be the bigger person when dealing with certain situations. O’Neal explained how he fulfilled his community service hours.

“At the African American Community Service Agency based in San Jose, I have passed out food and essential goods to people who are in need and people who are homeless,” O’Neal said. “I’ve also done my community service hours with Jack & Jill and Delta Sigma Theta’s EMBODI (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence), a program that helps African American males deal with real life situations, such as dealing with police officers and locating school resources.”

Allyson Yi, 18, is another Wilcox winner who has served as ASB president. Earlier in the school year, Yi helped to oversee the effort to reduce the amount of waste used to make parade floats at the homecoming football game by enforcing the use of reusable items.

“I would say to my fellow classmates to strive for new goals and create new memories,” Yi said of the advice she’d give the Class of 2020. “Things in life can be unexpected. Take the time to find out what you are passionate about. Be true to yourselves.”

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