Judge rules in favor of Sand Creek area developer striking down almost all of Measure T, long-planned homes can be built in Antioch

Posted in: News, City Council, Growth & Development, Legal | Comments (0)

The Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative known as Measure T on the November 2020 ballot cannot be implemented.

Environmentalists claim victory with Urban Limit Line extension

By Allen Payton

In what amounts to a final blow to Antioch’s Measure T and the environmentalists’ efforts to stop the long-planned new home developments in the city’s Sand Creek area, on June 7, 2021, a Contra Costa Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Oak Hill Park Company in their lawsuit against the City of Antioch to prevent the council from implementing the provisions of the measure. The initiative’s full title was Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative (LAVD) and would have devalued Oak Hills’, Zeka Ranch’s and other neighboring property owners’ land by over 98%, downzoning it from two homes per acre to just one home per 80 acres.  Measure T Statement of Decision 060721

In his tentative ruling on June 2, 2021, Judge Edward G. Weil wrote, “The Court finds that the LAVD Initiative, with the exception of Section 22, conflicts with the Housing Crisis Act and is therefore void. The Court further finds that, with the exception of Section 22, the individual provisions of the LAVD Initiative are not volitionally severable. The Court finds that Section 22 is valid and enforceable.” 2021-06-02 Tentative Ruling of Oak Hill

That meant that other than Section 22, none of the other sections of the measure could be separated from the rest of the initiative and applied on their own. The Housing Crisis Act, known as SB330, forbids cities from reducing the zoning of residential property until January 1, 2025, by either council action or citizen initiative.

Section 22 of the LAVD initiative reads, “The location of the Urban Limit Line enacted in Antioch Measure K on November 8, 2005, may be changed only by the voters.”

According to Weil’s final ruling, Section 1 of the LAVD Initiative identifies the following as two of the seven primary purposes of the Initiative: “maintains the existing urban limit line,” and “requires voter approval to change these safeguards.” In 2005, Antioch voters adopted Measure K establishing an Urban Limit Line. Under that measure, through December 31, 2020, only the voters could change the location of the Line. After that date, voter approval was not required. The measure’s language claimed, “maintaining voter approval beyond 2020 is in the best interests of Antioch residents.”

Had the judge not ruled in favor of severability of Section 22, the city council would have had the power to move the line from the current location, along the ridgeline on the back side of the former Roddy Ranch Golf Course. However, that part of the judge’s decision has no impact on the proposed developments in the Sand Creek area.

Save Mount Diablo Claims Victory on Urban Limit Line

In a press release by Save Mount Diablo on June 15, announcing the judge’s decision, the organization claimed a victory over the section about the Urban Limit Line. Measure T requires a vote of the people to change the boundaries. That is the only section of the measure the judge allowed to stand.

The group’s press release reads in part:

—————————-

On June 7, 2021, Contra Costa Superior Court ruled on a legal challenge to Measure T, the “Let Antioch Voters Decide” initiative. Measure T was approved by 79 percent of Antioch voters in November 2020. The legal challenge, OAK HILL PARK CO. VS. THE CITY OF ANTIOCH, was filed by out-of-state developer Oak Hill Park LLC/Richfield in an attempt to strike down Measure T. Measure T included growth management provisions for the Sand Creek area in southeast Antioch and extended protections for the Antioch Urban Limit Line.

Part of Measure T was affirmed, and part was ruled in conflict with SB 330—a 2019 housing crisis law enacted after Measure T was qualified in 2018 but before the public voted in November 2020.

“Save Mount Diablo, the Antioch community, and our other good partners have been working to defend and protect the important open spaces of the Sand Creek Focus Area for years against various developers and lawsuits. This past November, 79 percent of Antioch voters approved our Measure T to give the Sand Creek area more protections,” said Ted Clement, Save Mount Diablo’s Executive Director. “In the recent court ruling, our efforts were successful in saving the Antioch Urban Limit Line, which affords protections to Sand Creek, but other parts of Measure T were struck down. We are also proud that our Measure T gave Antioch voters a voice to express their clear desire that Sand Creek have more protections, and we hope Antioch officials will respect the overwhelming will of the people.”

After the election, in February 2021 Oak Hill Park LLC/Richfield once again challenged Measure T, based in part on SB 330. The state passed Senate Bill 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, after the 2018 qualification of Measure T but before the November election. SB 330 established new rules about what initiatives and local jurisdictions can do to affect housing.

The court’s ruling finds that Measure T, with the exception of the provision extending the Urban Limit Line (ULL), conflicts with Senate Bill 330 and is therefore void. A requirement for a public vote for major development west of Kaiser Hospital and Deer Valley Road in the Sand Creek Focus Area, and a variety of development standards Measure T would have required, have been nullified.

However, the coalition’s efforts and Measure T saved the Antioch Urban Limit Line. The court preserved Measure T’s extension of Antioch’s Urban Limit Line, and the requirement that any changes to the Urban Limit Line must be approved by the voters. Without Measure T’s approval in November 2020, that voter approval requirement would have expired on December 31, 2020.

“Our coalition educated Antioch residents about the Sand Creek and Empire Mine Road area,” said Seth Adams, Save Mount Diablo’s Land Conservation Director. “We saved the Antioch Urban Limit Line, built a strong grassroots coalition, established greater concern within the city council about the Sand Creek area, and received a very strong 79 percent election result of public support to help with the next steps. We’re in this for the long run. The work continues. We will oppose Zeka and Richfield, defend Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and Deer Valley Regional Park, and work to ensure that more of the Sand Creek area is protected.”

What Is SB 330?

SB 330 was signed into law by Governor Newsom in October 2019. It’s designed to speed up housing construction in California during the next half-decade by slashing the time it takes to obtain building permits, limiting fee increases on housing applications, and barring local governments from reducing the number of homes that can be built. Although it’s meant to encourage affordable housing, Antioch already provides more affordable housing than most cities.

The Antioch coalition qualified our initiative, and the Antioch City Council adopted it, long before SB 330 was signed into law. It was only because of lawsuits from developers Zeka Group and Oak Hill Park LLC/Richfield that our initiative was delayed until a judge sent our initiative to the November 2020 ballot, where we won in a 79 percent landslide. But by then, SB 330 had been signed.

Because of all this, we’ve known that some parts of Measure T might be struck down in court, and other parts might be “severed” and survive. Based on the court’s tentative ruling, that’s what’s happened.

Summary

Measure T has saved the Antioch Urban Limit Line. However, the rest of the initiative was struck down.

—————–

No Decision on Possible Appeal

Asked if Save Mount Diablo planned to appeal the judge’s decision, Adams responded, “No decision has been made. Can’t say at this point.”

City Council Discusses Lawsuit

During a special Conference with Legal Counsel on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, the Antioch City Council discussed the case of Oak Hill Park Company, vs. the City of Antioch, Contra Costa County Superior Court, Case No. N21-0048.

However, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith said, “There was no reportable action on the item.”

Oak Hill Park Company Responds

In response to their lawsuit victory, Oak Hill Park Company’s attorney, Alicia Guerra, issued the following statement: “Oak Hill Park Company appreciates the Court’s thoughtful ruling invalidating almost every provision of the Initiative under the Housing Crisis Act, and looks forward to working with the City in the future.”

Oak Hill plans a 370-home project known as Bridle Hills, south of the 1,177-home The Ranch project approved by the city council, last year. The neighboring 338-home project, known as Zeka Ranch is planned for 200 of the 640 acres of the former Higgins Ranch property located on the closed Empire Mine Road, adjacent to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.

History of Sand Creek Area and Urban Limit Line

Plans for new homes in the Sand Creek area, formerly known as Future Urban Area-1 (FUA-1), have been underway since developers purchased the land in the 1990’s following voter adoption of the county-wide Urban Limit Line (ULL) in 1990, protecting 65% of the land in the county from subdivision development. In 2003, the Antioch City Council reduced the total number of homes allowed in the Sand Creek area from over 8,900 to 4,000. Of that figure, approximately 877 homes remain to be approved and built west of Deer Valley Road, which is the area the initiative would have affected. Another 640 homes planned for the Roddy Ranch development will no longer be built since that land was sold by Jack Roddy and his partners to the East Bay Regional Parks District several years ago, and is currently referred to as Deer Valley Regional Park.

In 2006 County voters passed Measure L, which extended the term of the ULL through 2026 and required a 2016 review to determine whether enough capacity existed inside the ULL to accommodate jobs and housing growth through 2036. The location of the county’s line matches that of the City of Antioch’s ULL.

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Publisher @ June 22, 2021

Contra Costa Supervisors extend eviction protection, rent freeze through Sept. 30

Posted in: News, Contra Costa County | Comments (0)

By Susan Shiu, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County

At their meeting on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Urgency Ordinance No. 2021-20 that continues a temporary eviction moratorium for certain residential tenants and a moratorium on certain residential rent increases through September 30, 2021. The Urgency Ordinance also continues a temporary eviction moratorium for certain commercial tenants through September 30, 2021. Urgency Ordinance No. 2021-20 supersedes Ordinance No. 2021-11 and takes effect immediately.

“Our County is reopening and ready to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, yet my colleagues and I recognize that many residents and small businesses are still struggling to regain their stability,” said Supervisor Diane Burgis, Board Chair. “Extending eviction protections will help residents and small businesses get back on the road to recovery and a stronger, brighter future.”

Read the full document Ordinance No. 2021-20 (PDF). Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding this ordinance on the County website soon.

For information and resources like the County’s Rent Relief Program that can help eligible renters and landlords impacted by COVID-19 with rent and utilities, visit the Contra Costa County website at www.contracosta.ca.gov. The Rent Relief Program application through the state’s website portal is now easier and available in many languages.

For health updates on COVID-19 and where you can get a free, protective vaccine, visit Contra Costa Health Services at cchealth.org/coronavirus. if you have questions about COVID 19, contact the multilingual Call Center at 1-844-729-8410, open Monday – Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm. For assistance after hours in multiple languages, call 211 or 800-833-2900 or text HOPE to 20121.

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Publisher @ June 22, 2021

Antioch Council to vote on budgets, adding 17 positions but no more police, another cannabis business, tonight

Posted in: News, Police & Crime, City Council, Finance | Comments (0)

City of Antioch projected General Fund Expenditures FY 2021-22. Source: City of Antioch

General Fund revenue increases by $5.6 and $8.7 million per year

Creates new Community Resources Department

Adds 7 more Code Enforcement Officers

L Street to finally be widened to four lanes from W. 10th to W. 18th Streets

Will vote on appointing youth members to city commissions and boards

By Allen Payton

During the Antioch City Council’s regular meeting, tonight, June 22, 2021, votes will be taken on the two-year budget of $222.8 million for fiscal year 2021-22 and $179.2 million for FY 2022-23. The General Fund budget, which pays for the police department and other services, projects an increase of $5.6 million next year and $8.7 million the following year. It creates a new Community Resources Department and adds 17 more positions including seven Code Enforcement Officers, but does not include any additional funding for more sworn police officers.

In addition, the council will consider approving the city’s fifth cannabis business and appointing youth, ages 14-17, to city commissions and boards. (See complete agenda)

City of Antioch projected General Fund Revenue and Sources for FY 2021-22. Source: City of Antioch

According to the staff report on the General Fund, “Measure W…comprises over 20% of annual revenues and will generate a projected $38,000,000 over the next two years.” That’s a $1 million annual increase next year and a $2 million increase the following year over the current year’s General Fund revenue.

Antioch Five-Year Capital Improvement Program budget for Fiscal Years 2022-26. Source: City of Antioch

The council will also vote on the Five-Year Capital Improvement Program budget which includes $15 million for the widening of L Street to four lanes between W. 10th and W. 18th Street. In addition, the CIP will fund needed repairs at the Antioch Water Park, among its many projects throughout the city totaling $216.2 million. The largest expenditure is for the new Brackish Water Desalination Plant.

New Department, 17 New Positions

The budget includes formation of a new Community Resources Department to oversee existing services, including Animal Services (currently under the Police Department), Unhoused Resident Coordinator (currently under the City Manager), Youth Network Services (currently under Recreation), Code Enforcement, CDBG services and Environmental Services (all currently under Community Development).

The budget also includes “the addition of seventeen (17) new positions throughout the City to enhance City services including:

o One (1) Community Resources Director for the new department dedicated to Community Resources and Public Safety.

o One (1) Assistant City Attorney that will significantly enhance the department’s capacity.

o Seven (7) additional Code Enforcement Officers for a total of fourteen (14).

o One (1) Community Development Technician position to support the seven additional Code Enforcement Officers approved.

o One (1) additional General Laborer (for a total of 5) that will primarily address downtown needs.

o One (1) Recreation Coordinator to assist Youth Services Network Division.

o One (1) Administrative Analyst to assist the Environmental Services group.

o One (1) full-time Unhoused Resident Coordinator.

o One (1) Administrative Analyst to support CDBG and Housing activities.

o One (1) Fleet Service Technician to assist with vehicle fleet maintenance.

o One (1) Water Treatment Plant Instrument Technician to assist with the upcoming Brackish Water Desalination Plant.”

No Funding for Additional Police

However, there is no funding for additional police officers included in the budget. Although the city’s goal has been 1.2 officers per thousand population since the mid-1990’s, the proposed budget keeps the level at 1.0 officers per thousand, with 115 sworn officers and a population of 112,848 according to the city staff report.

According to the budget report, “The City Council continues to authorize one hundred fifteen (115) sworn Police Officers in FY 2022-23, as well as six ‘over-hire’ positions to address timing delays associated with attrition.”

According to Police Chief T Brooks the two new officers added to the department on Monday brings the current force to 116 sworn officers. (See related article).

The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. and can be viewed at https://www.antiochca.gov/live_stream, on Comcast Channel 24, or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

Annual General Fund budget comparison. Source: City of Antioch

Public Comments

If you wish to provide a written public comment, you may do so any of the following ways by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting: (1) Fill out an online speaker card, located at https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card, or (2) Email the City Clerk’s Department at cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us.

To provide oral public comments during the meeting, click the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers. You may also provide an oral public comment by dialing (925) 776-3057. Please see inside cover for detailed Speaker Rules.

The City cannot guarantee that its network and/or the site will be uninterrupted. To ensure that the City Council receives your comments, you must submit your comments in writing by 3:00 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting.

Members of the public wishing to provide public comment may do so one of the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar):

  1. Fill out an online speaker card by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting located at: https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card.
  2. Provide oral public comments during the meeting by clicking the following link to register in advance

to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers

– You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

– When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: https://www.antiochca.gov/raise_hand. When calling into the meeting using the Zoom Webinar telephone number, press *9 on your telephone keypad to “raise your hand”. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.

  1. Email comments to cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting. The comment will be read into the record at the meeting (350 words maximum, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: Identify the agenda item in the subject line of your email if the comment is for Announcement of Community Events, Public Comment, or a specific Agenda Item number. No one may speak more than once on an agenda item or during “Public Comments”.

All emails received by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting will be entered into the record for the meeting.

Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak.

– When called to speak, please limit your comments to the time allotted (350 words, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor).

 

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Publisher @ June 22, 2021

Two 20-year-olds arrested in Antioch for semi-automatic guns, marijuana on Father’s Day

Posted in: News, Police & Crime | Comments (0)

The guns, marijuana & cash seized during arrest on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20, 2021. Photos: APD

But no dirt bike rideout, as planned

By Antioch Police Department

One of the two suspects arrested. Photo: APD

On Sunday, June 20, 2021, just after noon, officers made a traffic stop near Auto Center Drive and Mahogany Way. As they contacted the occupants of the vehicle, they immediately saw a large amount of marijuana in plain view which led them to investigate further.

As the investigation continued, evidence of marijuana sales was discovered, as well as two semi automatic pistols. Two 20-year-old males were arrested after the guns, over 4 ounces of marijuana, and several thousand dollars in cash were seized!

Both of the arrested subjects were booked at the county jail on various weapons and drug sales charges and more importantly, no one was hurt, and we got two more firearms off of the street!

No rideout of off-road vehicles occurred, on the Father’s Day holiday, as planned, according to Chief T Brooks.  (See related article)

“We were ready if they showed up, though,” he shared. “I’m saddened I took some dads away from their families to work. But I’m glad they had a quiet night, here.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report

 

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Publisher @ June 21, 2021

Antioch Police welcome two more officers to the force

Posted in: News, Police & Crime | Comments (0)

New Antioch Police Officers Ashley Lundin (left) and Kristian Palma with Chief T Brooks (center). Photo by APD.

Brings total sworn to 116

By Antioch Police Department

Please join us in welcoming the newest police officers to the Antioch Police Department family! It brings the total number of sworn officers on the force to 116, according to Chief T Brooks.

Officer Kristian Palma

Officer Kristian Palma was born in San Francisco and raised in Martinez. He graduated from Alhambra High School and pursued his dream of becoming a police officer. Kris started a civilian with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office prior to attending the Law Enforcement Training Center in Pittsburg. His passion for policing came from his father, who served 39 years with the San Francisco Police Department. Kris also has a brother who serves as a police Sergeant in the neighboring community of Pittsburg.

Kris comes to us after serving 15 years with the Richmond Police Department. While with Richmond PD, Kris excelled in several assignments to include, Field Training Officer, SWAT team member, Firearms and tactics instructor, K-9 handler and most recently a Robbery Unit detective. Kris engaged with the community by teaching several blocks of instruction for the department’s Citizens’ Academy, speaking to at risk youth and participated in numerous K-9 demonstrations.

Kris is married to his amazing wife Lurdes, who when not at home with their three boys, spends her time in the emergency room helping those in need as a registered nurse.

Fun Fact: In 2016 Kris was voted officer of the year by his peers for outstanding leadership and community service. During the same year,he received a Life Saving Medal for rendering lifesaving aide to a kindergarten teacher who was the unintended victim of a nearby shooting.

Officer Ashley Lundin

Officer Ashley Lundin was born in San Jose and raised in Pleasanton. While in High School, she played softball and graduated from Foothill High. She went on to earn an Associate degree from Las Positas College. Ashley worked at a veterinary hospital until she was 23. Ashley then decided to follow her father’s footsteps and pursue her dream of becoming a police officer. Ashley was hired by East Bay Regional Parks Police in 2014 and worked as a patrol officer with assignments as a Field Training Officer and K9 Handler.

Ashley enjoys hiking, traveling, working out, eating food, and spending time with her family, friends, and retired Police K9, Maverick.

Fun fact: Ashley is a huge animal lover and grew up with many types of pets including dogs, cats, reptiles, birds, and rodents.

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Publisher @ June 21, 2021

Video by Joey Travolta and crew promoting Stand Down on the Delta in September released

Posted in: News, Arts & Entertainment, Military & Veterans | Comments (0)

Veterans Tony Archimedes and Joe Martinez perform in the Music Heals video as part of The Illusions Band. Screenshot.

By Allen Payton

The video about the bands that perform at the biennial Stand Down on the Delta, to promote this year’s event, entitled “Music Heals” was released last week. Director and producer Joey Travolta and his Inclusion Films crew of predominately students, shot and edited the almost 8-minute video at Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill in May. (See related article)

Band leader and veteran Gig Edwards is interviewed in the video. Screenshot.

“Delta Veterans Group is proud to bring Stand Down on the Delta 2021 to Contra Costa County September 10-13, 2021,” said J.R. Wilson, the organization’s president. “This year we are starting a new program called ‘Music Heals’ conducted by our Entertainment Director Darlyn Phillips. This program will engage our veterans in music, to calm the soul.”

“Music often times breaks down barriers that might be obstacles to reintegration,” he continued. “The music brings out the inner joy in those that may have PTSD or other Health problems…. Bands from around the Bay Area will be coming to the CCC Fairgrounds to participate in this great event.”

Darlyn Phillips sings as jazz guitarist Steve Krohn performs in the Music Heals video. Screenshot.

Travolta’s film crew includes youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who are students in his program throughout the state. Five of the students helped shoot the Music Heals video.

“Darlyn enlisted the help of Joey Travolta and his crew to shoot the promo video, which we’re excited to have for this year’s event,” Wilson shared. “We very much appreciate his and the Inclusion Films team work on this project.”

The video includes interviews with the various singers and musicians from the bands that perform at each Stand Down, as well as some of the songs they will be playing, including originals.

Gig & Friends, including drummer Evan Carr and bassist Michael Fourie perform in the video. Screenshot.

For more information or to volunteer for the four-day event at the Contra Costa Event Park (fairgrounds) visit the Stand Down on the Delta Facebook page or Delta Veterans Group website.

 

 

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Publisher @ June 21, 2021

Antioch Mayor proposes naming water fountain in median Black Lives Matter Freedom Fountain

Posted in: News, Community | Comments (0)

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe wants to name the water fountain in the median at Hillcrest Avenue and Deer Valley Road Black Lives Matter Freedom Fountain. Source: Google maps.

Also wants to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday for city employees

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s post on his Facebook page on Saturday, July 19, 2021.

By Allen Payton

Following his speeches at the Juneteenth celebrations in Antioch on Saturday, Mayor Lamar Thorpe announced on his official Facebook page that he is proposing naming the water fountain and median in the intersection of Hillcrest Avenue and Deer Valley Road, “Black Lives Matter Freedom Plaza”.

“Mayor Thorpe had the honor of speaking at not just one BUT two Juneteenth events today in Antioch!

During his remarks, Mayor Thorpe noted that the reason these events were taking place today was because of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Last year’s global awakening took folks to the streets, took folks to their civic centers, took folks to the ballot box, and more to demand racial justice.

As part of this historic celebration and as a result of the federal government’s action to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, Mayor Thorpe will be advancing measures that (1) observe Juneteenth as a holiday for city employees and (2) designates the water fountain and median at the intersection of Hillcrest Ave and Deer Valley Rd (in Southeast Antioch) as Black Lives Matter Freedom Plaza.

More details to come!”

UPDATE: However, as of Monday morning, June 21, the mayor changed his Facebook post to read “Fountain” instead of “Plaza.

Antioch School Board Vice President Dr. Clyde Lewis, who also spoke at the Antioch Juneteenth celebration, offered a comment in support, writing, “Wonderful hearing you speak. Looking forward to the great things ahead for our wonderful city!”

The naming requires a vote of the city council.

 

 

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Publisher @ June 20, 2021

Antioch High School sends off 400 graduates

Posted in: News, Education | Comments (0)

The Antioch High School class of 2021 celebrates their graduation while remaining socially distanced in Eels Stadium, Friday night. Photos by Jesus Cano.

Valedictorian is just 13-year-old 

By Jesus Cano

Principal Louie Rocha called the class of 2021 a special group of people.

Principal Louie Rocha has gone through 21 graduation commencements but, says that the Antioch High School class of 2021 stand out as a special group due to all they had to go through because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was impressed that they placed the welfare of their loved ones before their own self-interest. School closure resulted in missed school activities and milestone events,” Rocha said. “I am so very proud of the class of 2021 throughout their high school years,” he continued. “I have been impressed how they come together to support one another during some challenging times.”

Ceremonies for the final of six high school graduations for the Antioch Unified School District, this week, were held in the school’s Eells Stadium.

13-year-old Ella Nguyen could be the youngest valedictorian in Antioch High School history.

13-year-old Ella Nguyen was this year’s valedictorian, perhaps the youngest in Antioch High School history. She congratulated her classmates as they went through 12 years to earn their diplomas and battled through the COVID-19 pandemic. (See related article)

“But after 15 months of being shut in confined isolation. It is especially important to recognize that we as a class of 2021 are more than this academic achievement,” Ella said. “But I know for a fact that from joy to misery, passion to empathy, spring to summer to fall to winter, through the year in solitude. It was your final year of high school, you’ve made it.”

Senior ASB president Arianna Grady’s opening speech emphasized with her classmates about being people of color and not letting negative stereotypes deter them from the success that they could have. Grady did so by introducing a quote Malcom X said during an interview.

ASB President Arianna Grady addresses her peers for a final time during Antioch’s commencement ceremony Friday night.

“Malcolm’s quote made me think of how we have allowed people to construct our mindsets, the way we are perceived, perceive others and how we respond to others’ beliefs,” Grady said. “To that I say refuse. Refuse to allow yourself to be manipulated. Refuse to conform based on others’ beliefs. Refuse to be anything but unapologetically you. Question everything you read. Find your truth, with a school that has 85% racial and ethnic minorities.”

Antioch also honored fallen classmate Andrew Gonzalez, who passed away during his sophomore year of high school in a car accident on James Donlon Blvd.

400 students graduated this year from Antioch High School, according to Rocha.

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Publisher @ June 19, 2021