Grad time

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALENCIA – It’s been four years of final exams, football games and yearbook pictures. This year they weathered the controversial high school exit exam, immigration walkouts and changes to driving laws. And now, it’s time for graduation. About 3,100 students from the William S. Hart Union High School District will take the stage next week and receive diplomas in graduation ceremonies throughout Santa Clarita. Of those graduates, about 90 percent will proceed with some form of higher education. Whether it’s for full-time studies or just a few classes, the significant rate of college-bound students from the district hasn’t changed much over time. “Each year, it increases a little bit,” said Vicki Engbrecht, director of curriculum. Engbrecht attributed the sizable college-attendance rate to high community expectations and easy access to College of the Canyons. In fact, 60 percent of graduates are heading to community college, with the majority of them attending College of the Canyons. Pete Hirsch is one high school senior with his sights aimed at the local school. The 17-year-old works for a contractor building cabinets and doesn’t want to leave his job because it pays well. Attending College of the Canyons became the logical choice. “I’m going to go to COC because it’s so close,” Hirsch said. “I plan to do this as long as I have a job.” Although many take extra courses at the community college during high school, College of the Canyons works closely with the Hart district to encourage students to continue their education there. A program started this year involves College of the Canyons counselors regularly visiting Hart district high schools to answer questions and hold workshops, Engbrecht said. Still, interest in college runs deep in the community. More than 4,000 students and their families showed up at the district’s college fair last year to learn about the application process, financial aid and passing the SAT. On Tuesday, Valencia High School seniors gathered for an end-of-the-year assembly and graduation practice. Banners hung on the gym walls, marking how many days were left until the big day. As they picked up their caps and gowns, students talked about their plans after graduation. Some were headed as far as France while a few others opted for the East Coast and Midwest. Many others mentioned San Francisco State University. Although many planned on sticking close to home and attending community college, others said they wanted to leave the area and see what the rest of the world has to offer. Mike Amico is one such student. The 18-year-old was first considering California State University, Long Beach, but changed his mind when he learned that many students who go there also return home on weekends. He wants to be on a campus that will bring a traditional college experience and has chosen Arizona State University. “It’s a big school,” he said. “I didn’t want to feel like I was at a commuter college.” [email protected] (661)257-5254 last_img read more