Definitively the largest graduating class this year for the Santa Clarita Valley, the Valencia High School Class of 2021 watched as 664 fellow Viking graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas on Friday.
During the second-to-last William S. Hart Union High School District graduation for the year, class speaker Fabio Nunes Del Prado-Alvarado used the life of boxer Vinny Paz as a connection between his fellow classmates and the “greatest comeback in (their academic career).”
Paz, as Del Prado-Alvarado explained, worked his way up to becoming the second fighter in boxing history to win both the lightweight and junior middleweight world championships.
Then, in a turn of fate, a very serious car crash sent the champ to the hospital with a broken neck — effectively, according to his doctors and many of those around him, ending his boxing career.
“His doctors told him he would never walk again, but against all odds, Vinny overcame his injury, trained during his recovery and won the world title, making one of the biggest comebacks in all of sports history,” said Del Prado-Alvarado. “When asked about … making such a comeback, he explains the boxing world looks shiny from the outside, it’s holding promises that could turn out to be lies.”
He then compared this quote, and the boxing world at large, to that of high school, one that promised to be a beautiful experience, but had mental and physical obstacles.
“And so Vinny goes on to say that the biggest lie he was ever told was: ‘It’s not that simple,’” said Del Prado-Alvarado. “He says, ‘That’s what people tell you to give up.’”
Prado-Alvarado explained to his classmates that happiness comes when you realize that your happiness is simply determined by your own actions, your own minds. And his classmates, by thriving in a world crippled by a global pandemic, forced to head to their homes and rooms to finish high school, learned to live the “simple life.”
“We stood strong against the weight, not being able to see our friends, and continue to strive for progress in our education and our personal goals,” said Del Prado-Alvarado, later adding, “I say to you, go chase the life that you and only you desire…. before we say our goodbyes today, promise yourselves: Live in simple.”
Of the 664 graduates in the Valencia High graduating Class of 2021, 180 graduated with honors. The class’ most common college choices included: the University of Utah, the University of California, San Diego, Boise State University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Point Loma Nazarene University, and University of Hawaii at Manoa.