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The top 20 graduates of Holtville High School’s Class of 2022 are shown during the Holtville High School Senior Awards on June 2. | MARCIE LANDEROS PHOTO

Holtville Students Shine During Senior Awards

Nearly 50 Awards and Scholarships Were Announced During Event, and Class of 2022’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian Were Named

HOLTVILLE — Two seniors from Holtville High School, Chloe Strahm and Arianna Venegas, announced that they each won large amounts in scholarships during the Holtville High School Senior Awards Ceremony.

Holtville High School acknowledged close to 50 different awards and scholarships during their awards ceremony on June 2, with the single-highest award recipient being Strahm, who earned a $32,000 per year art scholarship from the University of Dallas.

While the 18-year-old Strahm looks forward to studying a wide variety of art upon arriving in Texas for school, her primary focus is on illustration and storytelling, with the eventual hope of becoming a comic artist.

“I was heavily influenced by the Sunday morning comics in the newspaper as a kid,” Strahm said.

Vera Smith (from left) and Chloe Strahm receive $500 scholarships from the North County Coalition for the Arts during the Holtville High School Senior Awards on June 2. | MARCIE LANDEROS PHOTO

In addition to winning a scholarship directly from the University of Dallas, Strahm was awarded the North County Coalition for the Arts Patricia Shreves Saracco Lang Educational Arts Scholarship, as well as being a member of the top 20 students at Holtville High School. Senior Vera Smith was also a winner of the North County Coalition for the Arts scholarship.

This $500 merit-based scholarship is awarded to a limited number of deserving Imperial Valley high school seniors planning to continue their career or education in the field of visual or performing arts.

“It’s been such a relief to win these scholarships … Now the only thing I have to be worried about is moving to a new state all by myself,” Strahm said.

While the exact dollar amount 18-year-old Venegas received in scholarships couldn’t be determined since several of the scholarships didn’t release the dollar amounts awarded, Venegas clearly took home the single-highest number of individual scholarships of the evening, winning 11 scholarships in total.

Venegas plans to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she will study engineering with a minor in agricultural business, with the hope of becoming a civil engineer that can introduce agriculture into urban landscapes.

Arianna Veneagas (right) receives the Yellow Ribbon Club Scholarship from Margaret Strahm (left) during the Holtville High School Senior Awards on June 2. | MARCIE LANDEROS PHOTO

“I know the engineering program will be quite rigorous, but I hope I can fit an agriculture business minor in there, too, so I can own my own civil engineering business that will be able to also integrate agriculture into it,” Venegas said.

It was this dream that earned her the highly competitive Southern California Association of Government Scholarship, which provides $4,000 scholarship awards for seven high school or community college students from Southern California.

In addition to winning the SCAG scholarship, Venegas is also one of the top 20 students at Holtville High School, and received scholarships from the IV Masonic Lodge, the Yellow Ribbon Club, CSOLAR IV South, the Imperial Valley Farm Bureau, the Green and Gold Hall of Fame, a Supporting Holtville in Numerous Endeavors Scholarship, a Holtville Chamber of Commerce Community Service Scholarship, a Holtville Rotary scholarship, a scholarship from the Viking Energy Farm, and the Philanthropic Educational Organization Reciprocity scholarship.

The highest amount Venegas was awarded was $5,000 through the Viking Energy Farm. Seniors Donovan Johnston and Mariel Camacho also received the Viking Energy Farm, making them the first three to have ever received this scholarship.

This scholarship was created through the Viking Solar Energy Generation and Battery Storage Project, which is a 150-megawatt solar energy facility with an integrated battery storage system, on some 604 acres of land located 5.5 miles east of Holtville.

“I don’t know how much I earned tonight yet, but I know it’s over $10,000 … I think I almost have enough to cover my first semester of school, so that is that much less I have to take a loan for,” Venegas said.

Kayla Morgan (from left) and Gisele Valdovinos (right) pose together after finding out they will be valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for the Class of 2022 during the Holtville High School Senior Awards on June 2. | MARCIE LANDEROS PHOTO

Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Holtville High School announced its valedictorian and salutatorian for Class of 2022 on June 2, with Gisele Valdovinos taking salutatorian and Kayla Morgan taking valedictorian.

Both young women are 18 years old and both won high honors in the Dual Emersion Program, but the two were also repeatedly honored through a wide variety of awards and scholarships.

Valdovinos was awarded six additional scholarships, though the total amount awarded could again not be determined since some of the scholarships didn’t release their dollar amounts.

Valdovinos was awarded the Mary Catherine Carpenter Grant, the Association of California School Administrators scholarship, the Supporting Holtville in Numerous Endeavors, MANA de Imperial Valley Scholarship, the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program Community Foundation Fund Scholarship, the Holtville Chamber of Commerce Community Service Scholarship and the Holtville Rotary Scholarship.

“This was certainly all a surprise. I am nervous and excited … I’ve gone through hours of stress and homework to get here,” Valdovinos said.

Valedictorian Morgan took an additional three awards, the US Marine Corps Awards for Scholastic Excellence, the Philanthropic Educational Organization Reciprocity for $1,000, and a Sun Community scholarship for $1,000.

“I feel pretty damn good tonight … I went through a lot of late stressing to get here, but it was all worth it,” Morgan said.