LAKEWOOD – Mayfair High School’s seniors will be honored for their extraordinary mix of academic strength, community involvement, determination and school spirit when the 494 members of the Class of 2016 receive their diplomas at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 15.

Students from the class were accepted to 70 top-notch U.S. universities, including UC Berkeley, UCLA, Brigham Young University, University of Arizona, USC, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Loyola Marymount, as well as other UC and Cal State campuses.

Some 135 students will graduate with a Golden State Seal Merit Diploma, signifying mastery of academic subjects in classroom grades and on state tests, and 40 students will receive a State Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas, indicating proficiency in two or more languages.

“Mayfair High School’s Class of 2016 is graduating with excellent academic skills that will embolden them to become lifelong active learners,” Bellflower Unified Superintendent Dr. Brian Jacobs said. “These Mayfair Monsoons are wonderfully well prepared for the challenges they will face at in their colleges and careers.”

Valedictorian Patricia Cuarenta balanced 13 Advanced Placement courses with campus involvement as a co-founder of the Model United Nations club, president of the National Honor Society and student representative on the School Site Council. Cuarenta, who earned a 4.68 weighted GPA, also tutored Mayfair’s English learners and children at the Bellflower Volunteer Center.

This fall, Cuarenta will attend UCLA, where she plans to major in international development studies. She plans to attend law school and dreams of becoming a philanthropist who can donate to building infrastructure, health, and educational systems in developing countries.

Salutatorian Jocelyne Vasquez completed 13 Advanced Placement and honors courses, and played varsity girls volleyball. Vasquez is a member of the Spanish Club, Link Crew, National Honor Society and California Scholarship Federation. Vasquez, who earned a 4.63 weighted GPA, will study mathematics at UCLA. She plans to pursue a career in accounting or as an actuary.

The path to graduation included significant challenges for some students.

Kumpol Homwongpanich, who emigrated from Thailand in 2010, not only struggled to learn English, but has contended with thalassemia, a disorder that prevents the production of red blood cells.

But Homwongpanich has refused to let either challenge deter his dream of becoming a doctor. He has grown confident with his English even as he picks up new words and phrases daily, and he gained invaluable experience as a Kaiser Permanente intern in summer 2015. He will major in biological science at Cal Poly SLO.

Some 45 Mayfair seniors also received $36,500 in 71 locally funded scholarships, with some students – such as Homwongpanich – receiving multiple awards.
Jesus Chavez won a $1,000 Dr. Linda Evans Memorial Scholarship. The Bellflower Kiwanis Club awarded a $2,500 scholarship to Avram Arenas, $1,000 to Iris Salmeron and $1,000 to Amy Hamada. Camille Burrus won a $2,000 scholarship from Delta Sigma Theta – Cerritos Alumnae Chapter and a $1,000 scholarship from the Rotary Club of Bellflower.

Sarah Austin won a $1,000 scholarship from Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, D’Angelo Smith and Roberto Jimenez each won $1,000 scholarships from the Woman’s Club of Bellflower, Alexander Dinh won a $1,000 scholarship from the Rotary Club of Bellflower and the Lakewood Pan American Association awarded $1,000 scholarships to Lina Elasmar, Elyse Holman and Jenna Terry.

“Mayfair High is graduating a class of students that has proven it can push through any academic, social or athletic challenge,” Bellflower Unified Board of Education President Dr. Paul Helzer said. “I’m very proud of these students and everything our staff has done to inspire and prepare them.”

Mayfair High’s commencement ceremonies will be held at Ron Yary Stadium at Bellflower High School, 15301 McNab Ave., Bellflower.