Woodlake Graduation: Gabriela Aguilar and Jacob Canizalez receive the first Youth Service Learning award

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By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
WOODLAKE – Since 1992 Woodlake High School has provided their students with a different style of learning known as Youth Service Learning (YSL). The program was the creation of Woodlake High School’s counselors Sally Pace, and Dennis Conner, and provides students with the chance to connect with the community, develop civic pride, and gain real-life job experience. As the years went on the program became one of the most meaningful ways for students to learn. Now it will help students beyond the halls of Woodlake as well. Last Friday night Gabriela Aguilar and Jacob Canizalez both received the first Pace-Conner Youth Service Award and each a $500 scholarship along with it.
Much like the new award and scholarship the 122 graduates took their first steps toward a new beginning. Before Crystal Sandoval delivered her address about what the future held she reflected on the past. Like many of her classmates the last four years were filled with many highlights. The ups included activities which now will be missed like sports, clubs, and friends. 
While the last four years went by fast Sandoval knows it was not all perfect. In order to get though the down times she encouraged her classmates to hold on to a special influence. Much the same way she held onto the memory of her grandfather.
“That is going to help get you through, just like it helped me,” Sandoval said.
Armed with the memory of the influential person and memories of the good times Sandoval encouraged her classmates to set goals for themselves. As they go on to this chapter of their lives she told them, “don’t lose sight of who you are.” However, just setting the goals was not enough. She encouraged them to set goals which stretch their abilities.
“Follow through with your goals and don’t forget your potential,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval left her classmates with a quote of former Los Angeles Dodger, Steve Garvey, “You have to set goals that are almost out of your reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.”
Earlier in the ceremony Woodlake Associate Student Body (ASB) President Carlos Lucatero encouraged the Class of 2018 to not dwell on the exchange of bittersweet goodbyes as they left the stadium last Friday, but instead to look toward their bright futures. 
“I know every single one of us has the strength to accomplish anything we set our minds to,” Lucatero said. “It is through these obstacles that we grow and become stronger.”
While Lucatero and Sandoval’s speeches hinged on bright futures, and new beginnings Andrew Lopez spoke about adulthood. He warned his classmates that life is short, and to not waste it living someone else’s life. Lopez also challenged his classmates not to settle for anything short of their dreams.
“Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your inner voice,” Lopez said. “Fellow classmates, promise me one thing, whatever you pursue, do it with happiness and passion.”
The student speakers were concluded with one last tribute to their future when Dominique Franco sang “How Far I’ll Go.”
The Class of 2018 has a long road in front of them and they’re taking their first steps into the future, they will be carrying with them their accomplishments of the last four years. 
Three of graduates received the California Scholarship Federation’s Lifetime Membership. Another 11 received one-hundred percent Life Time Membership. And 14 students graduated with honors as well.