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September 22, 2023

Caps and gowns at New School

Taking advantage of the sprawling athletic field of Landmark Elementary School that adjoins the tiny campus of New School, 25 graduates filed onto the lawn on the first day of June to fetch their high school diplomas.

“It’s a good feeling, to realize all the effort I put into this,” Marilyn Rodriguez, 17, said. “I was a few months at Pajaro Valley High School and then my sophomore year at Watsonville High. Coming to New School was definitely an adjustment. At first I didn’t like it but I eventually came to like it. The teachers are good; they listen to you.”

She said she’ll be heading to Monterey Peninsula College to study psychology. Born in Watsonville, she will be the first in her family to go to college.

New School is a credit recovery high school serving students in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. 

Watsonville native Gabriel Reynosa, 17, whose twin brother graduated from New School recently, said the school and staff “really helped” him focus on graduating.

“It feels pretty good to graduate,” he said.” I got support from my brother, Saul. I’m going to continue to work and try to get into a trade school, like in engineering. My brother and I are pretty good mechanics so I want to develop that. People here are friendly; overall, this is a pretty good school. They have been accepting of me and I made some good friends. My parents can’t wait for me to graduate. I’m glad to be able to do that.”

Principal Rafael Ramirez said, “It’s been an adjustment process for our kids coming back to school during the pandemic. They missed out on a whole year. Fortunately, we had the state AB 104 that allowed our seniors to graduate with reduced credit; it really helped.”

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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