(Photo by Mas Hashimoto)

WATSONVILLE — Hundreds of students filled the Henry J. Mello Center Friday morning to see four people join the ranks of their school’s elite alumni.

The annual Watsonville High School Hall of Fame assembly – now in its 31st year – is a way for the students to meet the people who have led successful lives after graduation.

“We’re very proud of Watsonville High, and we’re celebrating the 125th graduating class this year,” WHS Principal Elaine Legorreta said.



Leticia Mendoza, Class of ’79, went from being a 14-year-old migrant with little English to a PhD candidate in Urban Planning. She also has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbia University.

She has been working for the Watsonville YWCA since 2009.

James W. Vestal, Class of ’54, was known for a career in photography that began with the WHS Manzanita Yearbook and included teaching photography and photojournalism at CSU Hayward.

Charles Wilson Kent, Class of ’66, helped create the UC Santa Cruz Environmental Studies Program. His career centered on environmental policymaking, and he worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

William King “Bill” Sambrailo, Class of ’45, was given the posthumous award. He is known for running Sambrailo Paper Company, and inventing the first clamshell for produce.

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