Not too many people gave Marissa Lafayette much of a chance a few years ago.
She was behind in her studies and was dealing with family issues. “No one thought I was going to walk with my class,” said Lafayette at Tuesday’s be.tech Charter High School graduation.
She not only received her diploma but finished a year earlier.
“I did nonstop homework for the last nine months,” said Lafayette, who delivered the message to never give up to the 107 graduates at the fourth annual event held outdoors for the first time in the Manteca Unified School District complex.
The reason for that, according to Karen Olson of be.tech’s be.cuisine, is the growth of the public charter school in recent years.
The be.tech program offers students with career path options in Industrial Arts, Culinary Arts, Nutrition Education, Hospitality & Tourism, First Responders and Computer Programming & Game Design.
They’ve also learned English, math and history, for example, while focusing on their career paths.
“We’ve knocked out our classes in order to secure our future,” said Cathaline Romero, who also received a $500 scholarship from the Manteca Police Chief Foundation.
She earned that first-place prize from an essay submitted to Police Chief Nick Obligacion, who was guest speaker.
He and Patty Page, the district’s director of Nutrition Services, received community recognition from Principal Diane Medeiros for their contributions to be.tech.
“This is a great program,” Obligacion said. “Students learn skills that they can immediately use or further their education.
“I’ve watched (be.tech) grow to what it is today.”
Among the students receiving recognition were Alex Martell, Dexter Monroe and Monica Manzo for Educational Excellence.
Jennifer Banuelos Contreras, Michael Barros, Nathan Corry, James Delgado, Sanders Garcia, Dakota Goddard-Hauk, Dulce Gonzalez Reyes, Christopher Irada, Owen McLarty, Isabelle Munoz, Tiana Muschott, Kerynne Powell, Victor Robles, Katerina Torres and Romero were also honored for academic and / or citizenship, or career technical education achievement.