PVUSD posters
Posters recognizing recent graduates in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District now line a part of Union Street in downtown Watsonville. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—Last year, Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) spokeswoman Alicia Jimenez was looking for a way to get the community more involved in local public education. 

When visiting other cities such as Gonzales, she noticed they were creating and installing banners in their downtowns, featuring recently-graduated high school seniors. Inspired, she brought the idea back to the PVUSD and to the City of Watsonville.

They jumped on the idea immediately, Jimenez said, and they all began working together on the project, reaching out to local high school principals to select students.

“We had them choose students who had gone through meaningful experiences in school, or overcame challenges,” she said. “Like one student from Aptos High… [he] was in danger of not graduating, but ended up going above and beyond in his final months and completed everything. That’s amazing.”

A total of 32 banners now grace Watsonville’s downtown, with many of them in front of Cabrillo College and Digital Nest. Eight PVUSD students from the three comprehensive high schools and two from the four alternative high schools were chosen for the project.

The banners display a photo of each student, along with their education from first grade to college. Jimenez said that going all the way back into the students’ primary school history is unique to this project.

“In the other cities… they didn’t go back that far, I haven’t seen any like that,” she said. “But I think it really showcases a journey.”

PVUSD worked closely with Deputy City Manager Tamara Vides and audio/visual communications technician Suryel Vasquez to create the banners. Photography was handled by instructors at the local branch of the Youth Cinema Project.

The outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent closures of PVUSD schools in March makes honoring graduates that much more important, Jimenez said, adding that she hopes the banners will become a tradition in the future.

“I believe a lot more people are realizing the importance of school districts,” she said. “This experience has brought people together… I can feel there is a lot more interest.”

When the banners were installed Aug. 28, PVUSD Superintendent Dr. Michelle Rodriguez said, “It is our sincere hope that these students’ academic journeys inspire you to embrace and promote the value of education.”

The banners will be up through November.


Featured graduates:

Aptos High

• Andres Cano-Mendoza

• Kainu’u Gavin

• Jared Kiser

• Shiori Oki

• Rylee Mennie

• Amada Villanueva-Lobato

• Janet Zurita

• Josh Powell

Pajaro Valley High

• Ulises Lobato

• Anna Chau

• Adam Tangonan

• Caitlan Paat

• Emerson Cruz

• Evelyn Pulido

• Eveny Pulido

• Enrique Fernandez

Watsonville High

• Omar Casillas

• Damian Rivas

• Christian Montoya

• Thaily Guzman

• Marq Mamaril

• Luis Quiroz

• Jessica Rodriguez- Reyes

• Jaylin Pinon

Diamond Tech

• Ana Sanchez

• Sarahi Rocha

New School

• Kimberly López

• Leticia Juarez

Pacific Coast Charter

• Michelle Soriano-Palma

• Tania Lara

Renaissance High

• Oswaldo Resendiz

• Hamaily Herrera-Jimenez

Previous articleGilroy man accused of ‘Boogaloo’ affiliation
Next articleSurvey seeks opinions on Washington statue
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here