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Marina High graduates about 550 students in drive-through ceremony

Ilhan Bronja
Ilhan Bronja poses with his diploma during a drive-through graduation ceremony for Marina High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Alejandra Rosales thought she was going to have to miss her graduation from Marina High School.

Rosales, an accomplished track and field thrower for the Vikings, was set to compete at an international event in Panama. She would have been representing El Salvador, the country her parents Henry and Erika were born in.

The competition was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m glad I actually get to be at my school, instead of having to pick up my diploma some other day,” Rosales said.

She and about 550 others graduated from Marina during a drive-through ceremony Thursday on campus.

Graduates and their families waited their turn in cars adjacent to Edinger Avenue. Once it was their turn, they graduated in the parking lot, walking out and getting their diploma before hopping back into the car and exiting onto Springdale Street.

“Even though we know our graduation will look different this year, our district worked closely together to plan a ceremony that we know will be exciting and memorable for our families,” Marina Principal Jessie Marion said. “We are thrilled to be able to watch all of our students walk across the stage in their caps and gowns to receive their diplomas. We are very proud of the class of 2020 and all they have accomplished while at Marina High School, and we are looking forward to honoring them today. We truly believe that this graduation will be a day they will never forget.”

Faculty and staff members show their support for graduates during a drive-through graduation ceremony for Marina High.
Faculty and staff members, left to right, Rita Peterson, Jennifer Letterman, Brittney Caldwell, Judy Goodhue and Tom Mushaney show their support for graduates during a drive-through graduation ceremony for Marina High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Rosales, who plans to throw at Riverside City College next year, had hoped for an unforgettable spring track season, in which she would make the CIF State Meet for the first time. COVID-19 changed those plans, but Rosales, the 2019 Daily Pilot Girls’ Track and Field Dream Team Athlete of the Year, has adapted.

Vikings thrower Alejandra Rosales is the Athlete of the Year for the 2019 season. She reached the CIF Southern Masters Meet in the discus throw for the second time.

She said she picked up a temporary job at Walmart to help support her parents financially. After she graduated Thursday afternoon, she had no big plans, other than to return home to watch her 10-year-old sister Daniela.

“At school, athletes, it’s like you’re a part of something more special,” Rosales said. “You win together, you lose together. The love is still there, and the memories will never fade away.”

Katherine Dillman walked across the stage in the morning. Her car featured her parents, her stepfather and her younger sister. Her mother, Kim, stood out of the car’s sunroof proudly shooting video, which made Katherine Dillman smile.

“I am happy,” Katherine Dillman said. “I wish I did a couple more things [in high school], but I’m pretty happy about all of my decisions that have led me to where I am today. I took a lot of classes, I got into a good school [UC Riverside]. I’m just excited for the new chapter.”

Dillman, who was a track and field sprinter for four years for the Vikings, had a cap that featured “UCR” written prominently. She said she considered wearing a “Black Lives Matter” mask, but ultimately decided against it.

“I decided not to wear it because my parents wouldn’t agree with that and I don’t know if the school would either,” said Dillman, whose mother is Vietnamese, and father is Hispanic.

Dillman, who attended the protest at the Huntington Beach Pier on May 31, said she is still excited to see many of her classmates and other young people rallying around the cause.

“We all want change to happen immediately,” she said.

Katherine Dillman poses with her diploma during a drive-through graduation ceremony for Marina High.
Katherine Dillman poses with her diploma during a drive-through graduation ceremony for Marina High School in Huntington Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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