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The Phoenix Award was presented to seniors Brenda Chavez and Lee Hernandez, both of whom overcame formidable obstacles and turned their lives around despite their environments. Even though they faced difficult circumstances, Chavez and Hernandez were able to surpass them and move on to a better future.

Chavez encountered several difficulties during her years at San Gabriel High School, but her eventual expulsion from school made her realize that she could not live aimlessly. Her biggest obstacle was coming back to school and “trying to fix everything [she] screwed up.” Though the task was daunting, Chavez still motivated herself to bring her grades up by coming to school everyday and dissociating herself from bad influences.

“I feel proud of my accomplishments because if I hadn’t been expelled, I wouldn’t be standing here about to graduate,” Chavez said.

Hernandez also surrounded himself with some bad influences during his earlier years of high school, and as a result, he had little reason to do well in school. However, during his sophomore year, Hernandez realized that he needed to change his lifestyle because it would not benefit him in the long run. With the help of his girlfriend and family, he motivated himself to try harder in school, made up all his classes, and never gave up no matter how tempting it was. Hernandez gives the underclassmen one piece of advice.

“Don’t mess up and keep your head clear from all the drama and keep pushing forward,” he said.

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