Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Doors Are Open!

The weeks dragged on and the days flew by, but the day finally came. Today on May 20, 2015, I finally realized the full extent of my new and upcoming journey at today's West Contra Costa Unified School District's board meeting to honor both my high school for its Gold Ribbon Award and the students engaged in this year's Ivy League Connection.

I woke up this morning in a cold sweat at around 6AM. I felt nervous but at the same time exuberance overcame my anxiety. After eating a quick breakfast, I left the house with an infectious positive attitude that I hoped would last throughout the day. Just a few hours prior to dismissal, I was told by Principal Evans that I would have to wear my Air Force JROTC dress blue uniform to the meeting tonight to represent De Anza High School. I agreed but contacted Don Gosney to ensure that I would meet the professional image that he set for us.

After coming home, I dressed into my JROTC uniform and headed out with my two friends, Cadet Quintana and Cadet Simundo. We felt our attitudes immediately change from mischievous high school sophomores to professional, polite and confident Air Force Airmen.
Joseph Quintana (Right) Joshua Simundo (Left) and there's me in the middle.

Once entering into the beautifully renovated Lovonya Dejean Middle School, I felt a really positive vibe between me and the other cohorts. I immediately met up with my other cohort members: Izabel, Saba, Deborah, and Alyanna along with our chaperone, Joyce Thrift. Soon after chatting with my cohort and chaperone, I could tell that we would get along incredibly well since we were not at all introverted with each other. Our conversations were lively, enjoyable, and just down right wonderful! It was almost as equivalent to conversing with an old friend from pre-school. Shortly before the start of the board meeting, we were given certificates recognizing us for our academic achievement and acceptance into the Ivy League Connection.

Now before the ILC was to present before the board, De Anza students and teachers were asked to present prior due to our recent Gold Ribbon Award. I stood alongside my fellow JROTC cadets at the position of parade rest as each teacher got up to the microphone to say a few words. A sense of pride overtook me until Principal Evans tapped me to speak. I was suddenly overcome by fear since I had no preparation at all. But I did my best and spoke to the best of my ability to represent both the cadets, the students, and the teachers and staff at De Anza High School.

Our cohort was the first one to present in front of the board. We walked up to the front of the board members with our Columbia University Flag with huge smiles and a huge sense of confidence. Our chaperone, Ms. Thrift, announced each of our names to the board members and what course we'd take at Columbia. Once Ms. Thrift announced my name, an overwhelming roar of cheers and applause overtook the room from my supportive JROTC cadets and De Anza teachers who were present at the meeting. After announcing our names to the board, Alyanna gave an eloquent speech thanking the ILC and the school board for this wonderful opportunity to study at one of the most prestigious learning institutions in the country.

After all the other cohorts had finished their presentations, we proceeded towards the gymnasium to take our official ILC group photo. Don did an excellent job in arranging all of us in our proper places. Don executed in a rapid yet professional way and in only a few moments, our ILC group shot was done! Afterwards, all the young men of the ILC requested for a group picture with our certificates.

As expected, all our mothers and fathers followed all of us to the courtyard of DeJean Middle School with their cameras and phones ready to bombard us with pictures. 
Nice, neat, professional.
The 2015 Ivy League Connection Boy's "Squad"

At the end of the day, I came home exhausted but at the same time overjoyed by the fact that studying constitutional law was no longer a fading dream. I realized today that the door had finally opened and that a dream I had since I was 8 years old had now become an official reality. Thanks and kudos to the WCCUSD School Board, and the Ivy League Connection for beginning this wonderful opportunity for me and my fellow cohort members. We won't let you guys down!
My dad and I shortly after coming home.
Look at those fat smiles!

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