The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians held an Academic Achievement Awards Ceremony to celebrate its outstanding students from the 2020-2021 school year. Some of the recent graduates will pursue higher education while the middle- and high-school honorees will be starting back to school in a few short weeks.
Soboba Tribal Executive Officer and emcee, Steven Estrada, welcomed all guests and offered a blessing for the students. Chairman Isaiah Vivanco introduced fellow council members Vice Chairwoman Geneva Mojado, Secretary Sally Moreno-Ortiz, Treasurer Daniel Valdez and Sergeant at Arms Kelli Hurtado.
“We are proud to honor these students here today. Their strong commitment and steadfast dedication in pursuit of academic excellence is something we feel privileged to support,” Tribal Council members said.
Vivanco said, “We also want to acknowledge all the elders and family members that are here today supporting the success of our Tribal youth and more importantly, we are here to celebrate the achievements they have made. We want to make sure our youth have the tools they need to take us into the future and are prepared and ready to take on that challenge.”
Wayne Nelson, who has two daughters being honored at the ceremony, also performed with the Inter-Tribal Bird Singers as a few of the students came forward to dance as well. Each table at the Soboba Casino Resort Event Center was elegantly decorated with black chair- and table covers and beautiful centerpieces of fresh flowers. Soboba Tribal Member Adona Salgado, of Se’ish Design, created the floral showpieces that were taken home by the eldest guest at each table. The lunch offered something for everyone, with Italian and Mexican options and desserts that ranged from crème brulee to cookies.
Each student in attendance received one of the many great raffle prizes that included Amazon gift cards, Nintendo Switch game systems, Apple watches and LIFX smart light bulbs.
Achievement can be defined as something accomplished with special effort. These youths have proven that hard work and dedication can result in amazing accomplishments. Students who earned Silver Achievement for Outstanding Achievement with a grade point average of 3.0 to 3.4 each received a certificate of acknowledgement, a crystal plaque and a cash award.
They are Tatiana Briones, Frank Manuel Moreno, So’a Nelson, Francisca Rivera, Luisa Rivera, Agustin Salgado-Galvan and Jocie Yepa.
Agustin Salgado-Galvan begins seventh grade at Dartmouth Middle School next month and said he kept his grades up by studying hard. He has varied interests and not just one favorite subject in school. So’a Nelson attends San Jacinto High School and said she excelled in school by staying focused.
Gold Achievement for Superior Achievement students, who obtained a 3.5 to 3.9 GPA, also received certificates, plaques and a cash award.
They are Jayden Basquez, Iyana Briones, Soowut Rodriguez, Myah Saenz, Daniel Valdez Jr. and Elijah Vazquez.
Iyana Briones, who also serves as Chairwoman for Soboba Youth Council, said she attributes her good grades to staying on top of things and making sure all her work is turned in on time as well as “extra studying and asking for help when I need it.”
Platinum Achievement for Academic Excellence was given to students with a GPA of 4.0 or higher, and each received a cash award along with a plaque and certificate.
They are Ava Ciccone-Cozart, Jesse Garcia, Aureny Manzanilla, Avellaka Manzanilla, Jade Reyes, Keanu Reyes, Lorraine Salgado-Galvan and Daniel Vazquez.
Lorraine Salgado-Galvan will start her junior year at Hemet High and plans to maintain her 4.0 GPA. Ashley Salgado said her daughter is very self motivated and although having to attend school virtually this past school year, it did not affect her ability to stay on top of her grades.
“I had really good teachers; they were always ready to help,” Lorraine said, adding that her favorite subject is French. She plans to keep an open mind about what career path she will eventually take and plans to explore majors as she finishes her next two years of high school.
Vivanco said there were 32 tribal members who graduated from high school this year and the 13 in attendance were given a handmade plate, certificate of achievement, a Pendleton blanket and a cash award, with those who graduated with a GPA of 3.0-plus receiving additional cash rewards.
Graduates are Asona Arres, Hattie Arres, Lillianna Casarez, Kaya Ciccone-Cozart, Stanley Devore, Jazmine Hernandez, Byrie Lindsey, Raymond Masiel, Shyann Morreo, Noswaamay Nelson, Ava Resvaloso-Wood, Tanya Elizabeth Rivera and Riley Ward.
San Jacinto High School graduate Riley Ward is headed to the University of California, Davis to major in agriculture education with plans to return to the San Jacinto Valley as an agriculture teacher. Her mother, Nicole Ward, said Riley has been a good role model for her two younger siblings.
“She’s loved ag and animals since she was very young and she even planted a garden at our home,” her mom said. Her dad, Michael Ward, said he thought it was very nice of Soboba to honor his daughter and the other students with this event.
Noswaamay Nelson, 17, graduated from San Jacinto High. Her mom, Sherral Orosco, said she did good in school and was pleased to see both her daughters recognized at the awards ceremony.
Sierra Vivanco was honored for successfully earning her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degree from California State University, San Marcos. She received an N7 Pendleton blanket, certificate, hand-beaded lanyard, and a cash award. She was the only college graduate among several others that was able to attend the ceremony.
Chairman Vivanco thanked everyone who attended the special event and said it is important to support all students as they continue their education.
Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians