By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
WOODLAKE – Claudia Zacarias and Carlos Lucatero are both upstanding and outgoing students at Woodlake High School. With that in mind, it was a shock to each of them when both were called to the principal’s office. The rare occurrence happened a few weeks ago; not for any disciplinary actions, but to inform the two that they had been selected as the city’s 2017 Female and Male Youth of the Year.
“It was nerve racking but exciting at the same time,” Zacarias said. “We really didn’t think anyone was going to notice us.”
“I’m greatly honored and deeply humbled,” Lucatero said. “It is actually pretty exciting. I really wasn’t sure why I was being called into the office that day.”
Zacarias’ high school days have been much like a journey of self discovery. She is involved in Associate Student Body, California Scholarship Federation, and journalism, just to name a few of her extracurriculars. She holds a couple of offices in the clubs and is an editor. It is her responsibility, to put together the weekly bulletin, or the “Weekly Dub” as it is sometimes called.
One organization she takes great pride in is called Leadership. While not the biggest club on campus it has begun to make the biggest change. This year, during football season, the group began putting together a designated student section. Putting together chants and cheers really gave the group its name.
“It is hard for students to get excited, and to be the one leading out,” Zacarias said. “I think this was a starting point for students to be the ones to step up.”
Being the one to step out and trying new things became a point of emphasis for Zacarias. Coming from middle school, she was very reserved at the start of her high school career. Usually she sat in the back of the class, and tried not to be noticed.
There was no more hiding when Zacarias decided to enter and won the Miss Woodlake contest last year. Now she is the face of her town.
Navigating the Miss Woodlake waters was just her latest dose of young education. But over the last four years, Zacarias has picked up plenty of social skills by being active in school. Most importantly though she has learned what she likes and doesn’t like. In her freshman year, she tried out for the volleyball team. While she made the team, she did not see a future playing the sport. Instead, she stuck to soccer and softball.
Zacarias has been accepted to enter Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks next semester. Currently, she is undecided as to what she will study, but dentistry interests her.
Lucatero’s passion lies in government. Since his freshman year, he has been involved with a local non-profit from Visalia called ACT for Woman and Children.
The organization is involved in many outreach programs which aim to provide leadership opportunities for women. Lucatero was drawn to the opportunity to change state legislation. At first, he helped the group in trying to make the sexual education program at schools more comprehensive. Currently, he is helping the group make Woodlake High School a sanctuary school.
“I did not realize I could affect state legislation while in high school,” Lucatero said. “I know I want to come back to this community and make changes.”
Lucatero is also the voice for every student within the Woodlake school system as the student school board representative. He has felt the pressure Woodlake Unified board members feel when it comes time to make decisions for him and the rest of the students. One perspective he has gained from the experience is that it is impossible to please everybody.
President of the Associate Student Body, as well as involved in other clubs and sports, Lucatero feels sometimes he is overwhelmed, and sleep seems elusive. However, being involved with the activities around school has given him the ability to see all points of view. He hopes that ability will help him later on in college and in his career.