Brawley graduates step off stage to new future

Class of 2017 graduates wait in line to get their diplomas from school officials Thursday evening during the Brawley Union High School commencement exercises at Warne Field in Brawley.
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Brawley — The Brawley Union High School Wildcats’ Class of 2107 highlighted their commencement exercises with fireworks that echoed through the city Thursday evening celebrating a season of accomplishments and new goals at Warne Field.

Stacey Louise Bendanillo, 18, graduated with honors. She was one of 32 students who graduated with summa cum laude attached to their names. The commencement program listed 400 graduates for the Class of 2017.

“It feels great to be one of the top students in my class. I’m finally done. I get to go on to the next step.” Bendanillo will continue her studies at Imperial Valley College and later transfer to pursue biochemistry at a yet to be determined college.

She played varsity tennis and celebrated graduation with her tennis team at her home. Her father Rey Bendanillo prepared the food. “Right now, we are celebrating at our house,” said the maintenance supervisor at CalEnergy at Calipatria.

“I’m really proud. I’m a proud parent because it’s one of her achievements.” Nine years ago, he and his family immigrated to Imperial Valley from Cebu, Philippines. Stacey Louise Bendanillo proudly displayed her heritage by painting the Philippine flag on her cap.

Draven Cortez-Brummett graduated cum laude with 86 others. He was surrounded by his family and friends, who took turns posing for photos.

“I’m moving to Tennessee to work with my uncle.” Cortez-Brummett said he will be welding machinery used for making cereal boxes. His elective training in welding and construction will be of use for this specific trade. However, he said, “I would rather get back to school as soon as possible and further my education.”

This eldest son’s move to Tennessee will have ripple effects in his family. His mother, Jessica Brummett, said, “It’s a little overwhelming. It’s a good feeling. It is scary because he is leaving less than a week, faraway. I really haven’t processed it yet, but I think it’s going to be really hard, specially on his brother and sister.”

Earlier, in her speech before the 400 graduates of Class 2017, summa cum laude Reet Goyal, 17, concluded her speech with, “We did it. Thank you.”