The Graduates in the time of COVID-19
The Graduates in the time of COVID-19
The Philippine Reporter features 2020 high school graduates. Prompted by queries from readers about a story on this graduating class in most challenging times: the worldwide Covid19 pandemic; protests against police brutality and racism; and a deeply uncertain economic future, we explored the idea.
We randomly selected graduates whose photos we saw on facebook wearing their graduation garb.
The following are profiles done about their thoughts on being a 2020 graduate, written by people who know them very well, upon TPR’s suggestion.
Gabriel De Guzman
By Mari-Len De Luna-De Guzman
Eighteen-year-old Gabriel Anthony De Guzman is the Class of 2020 valedictorian of Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newmarket, Ontario. A consistent honour-roll student, Gabriel has been a positive influence to his high school peers and have always strived to achieve the best that he can be. Through his high-school years, he was able to successfully balance his academics and his extracurricular activities, participating in sports teams, student clubs and sharing his musical talent as a drummer. He is a valued member of the Student Mentors At Sacred Heart (SMASH) organization, always ready to lend support and help out a fellow student in need. His favourite sport is volleyball.
This fall, Gabriel is going to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, to study Politics, Philosphy and Economics. He hopes to someday go into law school and work in public service, and dreams to become Canada’s first Prime Minister of Filipino heritage.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve been guided by this quote that has helped me get to where I am today: ‘If you want to get somewhere fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.’
“The coronavirus pandemic has created many challenges for the whole class of 2020, in both school and our personal lives. In addition, the recent tragic death of George Floyd and the ongoing inequalities against people of colour have triggered a different kind of emotion among the youth. However, all these unfortunate circumstances have united us and made us stronger. It has revealed our strength and ability to change, grow and thrive in a new normal, helping us prepare and participate in building a brighter future – free from the ugliness of racism and discrimination and promotes equal opportunity for all. We are the fresh, new faces of tomorrow and we are in the best position to create change. And we can achieve such change, not alone but together.”
By Sean Reodica
Natasha Reodica is a 17-year-old Filipino Canadian who was born in the GTA as the daughter of Ian and Rowena Reodica. For over 6 years, she was an active member in the Philippine Heritage Band alongside several relatives. She performed and paraded across Ontario and the United States as a majorette and saxophone player.
Prior to the current Covid-19 crisis, Natasha was an extremely active student at Saint Brother Andre CHS. She continued her music experience by participating in the school band for 2 years and was also a member of her high school basketball and ultimate frisbee teams. Natasha is most proud of her student government experience at SBA. She held a position on the athletic council for several years and was elected as the 2019-20 student body president.
She acknowledges the challenges that her graduating class is facing and Natasha continues to be active with the council and the administration to adapt to the current Covid-19 crisis. Despite her high level of activity within her community, Natasha is expected to graduate as an Ontario Scholar Award in June.
Since she desires to stay active in her community, Natasha aspires to become a business teacher. Since she believes that her past teachers were crucial to becoming the person she is today, Natasha aspires to return to Saint Brother Andre CHS as a teacher and become a similar role model for the next generation of students. As 2020 Graduate, she says: “The class of 2020 made history. During this time of uncertainty, we truly worked stronger and helped prepare us to be able to adapt to the unknown. The moments that we experienced during this pandemic, we will remember for the rest of our lives.”
By Charo Cabardo
Sixty-two days after the “Shelter in Place” state order in California was announced, 17 year old Julian Cabardo, went out for the first time with her mom, Lorena and grandma Charo, to receive his high school diploma in a drive-through ceremony at the John F. Kennedy High School in Anaheim.
The ceremony was quite quick, it took less than five minutes from the gate to the tent where the principal handed the diploma to Julian. It was quite a let down for Julian. After four years of hard work commencing with academic honors in the International Baccaluareate Program (top scores in AP, AP Euro, APUSH, AP Language, AP Literature and AP Calculus); seal of biliteracy after four years study in Spanish; and multiple band honors as the section leader of rench hor; and Visual Arts and Performing Arts Honors.
The following day his class had a virtual graduation ceremony in YouTube. A few days before that, he had an online reunion with his bandmates, The John F. Kennedy Marching Band.
Julian was proud of his IB program that challenged him to do extra work and gave him the “drive to work in a meaningful fashion.” Even with his usual achievements in grades from elementary to middle school, he said that he did not just “drift through the program” because the IB has forced him “to think beyond the surface of many topics.” In his elementary grades, he was always the school›s top reader, reading three books every day.
Disappointing though it was, it was also understandable because of the corona pandemic, Julian believed that his high school experience “was unlike any other.” His high school is the only school in the district of around twelve schools to offer the IB program. He explains that “through this, there is a clear divide between IB and regular students in regard to how they view education and the values of school.” The program provided him and his IB friends “the greater freedom of thinking, voicing criticisms when others would simply nod and agree.”
Julian lamented that the ending of school was “scarily” abrupt. He did not even had time to physically say goodbye to his friends. He says that he “felt conflicted about the abrupt nature of our quarantine. While I gained immense freedom with what I do and when I do it, I lost focus for most of the time I was doing my online learning.” Being an only child with few friends in school, Julian felt lonelier and the quarantine built up his loneliness. “I never had a social life outside the school because of my commitment to both the IB and honors program.”
But he is hopeful of his future. “I had a great score in the electrical chapter in both my physics course and my engineering course. So, I am going to college for electrical engineering in order to build devices such as electronic furniture that can be tailored and customized for my experiences and to allow people affordable options.” He hopes that the pandemic will not limit the experiences needed “to effectively master techniques that are going to be staples in the day to day operations of electrical engineers.”
The young Julian feels that the pandemic brings “a lack of hope” for his generation especially that he feels that his “generation will have to fix the mistakes” of older generations, but he is hoping that “this cycle of generational problems” will not continue into perpetuity, without end, making our lives and what we live for meaningless.”
Asked to describe himself, Julian said that “I would describe myself as lazy but smart. Being from a family of political activists, when I see something I believe is wrong, I try and find both the reason why people may believe such a thing and a way to bring meaningful change to appease both parties. As a young person, my peers and I are entrenched in political dissonance and many of my friends and acquaintances are not die hard republicans or democrats. We find no allegiance with any political party due to the divisive nature of politics and focus more on specific events and rules from multiple perspectives, being able to have meaningful conversations about topics that need addressing. My peers and I find that value in life is only given by yourself and by trying to be accepted into society, hopefully we don’t lose ourselves in the process.”
Born to Filipino parents, his mother is working as a chef at Disneyland, Julian’s family is ever proud of this young boy.
Alexandra Bettina Granda
By Karen Samala Granda
In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Bettina has recently become a highschool Class 2020 graduate of PAREF Woodrose School (Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines). The start of the school year was exactly how she expected it to be; the anticipation for the upcoming College Entrance Tests (CETs) was starting to consume her and made her more anxious than ever before. Balancing her schoolwork and college applications was definitely not an easy experience but nevertheless, all of her hard work and patience paid off in the end. After getting accepted into the universities she applied for, she is closer than ever to facing a hard reality—college.
One thing for sure is that she definitely did not expect to say her goodbyes sooner than she thought. Even when she took on her first step into senior year, she would always hear this from the people around her, “Senior year will be over before you know it.” She believed it, and yes the school year really did go by too quickly, but she definitely did not expect it to be under different circumstances. As part of the Class of 2020, there is no doubt that she is one of the many graduates around the world who was suddenly thrown into a world that faces more challenges than ever before. The sudden turn of events led to the cancellation of graduation ceremonies all over the world and the fact that she wasn’t able to experience this important milestone deeply saddens her. Celebrating her awards and accomplishments for the past 12 years in the same school and sharing the moment with her family and friends were definitely something she was looking forward to.
However, despite the wrecking havoc the world is facing today, Bettina remains hopeful. She strongly believes that everything happens for a reason and that whatever the reason is, it’s going to make us stronger than ever before. She sees this as a wake up call, especially for the people of her generation, as they are given the opportunity to lead the world into what it should be. For her, this so-called “new normal” shouldn’t be seen in a bad light. She sees this as a second chance to make things better, to reconstruct the world into a place that is filled with endless positivity. With that, she is definitely aware that she still has her whole life ahead of her as she is on her way to take on more opportunities and turn her dreams into a reality. As she is taking up a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Technology in the De Lasalle University, she hopes to help in the development of this “new normal” through the use of technology in enhancing the world’s way of living. There will be a lot of changes in the coming years and she is looking forward to help in any way she can. Yes, she is aware that there is a lot to work on in this world that seems to be built in a quicksand of turmoil, but she has faith. Faith in herself and her generation.
Extra Curricular Activities
1. Bata Batuta Organization: Member – 9, Vice President – 10, 11
2. World Youth Alliance Organization: Member – 9, 10
3. Save Our Surroundings Organization: Member – 9
4. Lifeline Organization: Member – 11
5. Student Council Production Committee: Member – 9, 10, 11, 12
6. Student Council Outreach Committee: Member – 11, 12
7. UNICEF Kids for Kids Organization: Member – 9, 10, 11, 12
8. Camp Conference: Participant – 9
9. Ateneo Corporate Sustainability Conference: Ambassador – 11
10. Ateneo Premier Management Engineering Orientation (PriME): Ambassador and Participant – 12
Community and/or Church Activities
1. Resurrection of Our Lord Parish, BF Homes: Volunteer for temporary assistant – 9
2. Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Alabang Hills: Volunteer for tree planting project – 10
3. Catechism classes: Volunteer: 10, 11, 12
4. Annual Samala family Christmas outreach in Binakayan, Kawit Cavite
1. Consistent year-end Silver Awardee – 8, 9, 10
2. Director’s List Award – 11
3. Sabayang Pagbigkas UA&P Champion – 10
4. Bata Batuta Organization Most Outstanding Member – 10, 11
5. Batch 2020 Slam Poetry Inter-Class Competition finalist – 9
6. Filipino Balagtasan Group Champion – 10
7. Certificate for an outstanding performance for an original Shakespearean Soliloquy – 10
1. University of Asia & the Pacific – BS in Information Technology
2. De Lasalle University – BS in Information Technology
3. Ateneo de Manila University – BS in Management Information Systems