Select county high school students were given the Oscars treatment on Wednesday for their hard work this school year.
At Bakersfield High School’s Harvey Auditorium, students were dressed in their best for the Kern High School District’s Promoting Excellence in Athletics and Activities in Kern (PEAAK) Awards. There was a red carpet leading into the auditorium as well as a photo area and live interviews.
Athletes, artists, leaders and others were recognized with individual and group awards, including best athlete, artist, theater production and community project.
“It’s an opportunity for us to honor and recognize the accomplishments of our students for everything they do on our campuses,” Stan Greene, director of school support services for the district, said at the start of the event.
Award winners were determined through a districtwide nomination for every school site. KHSD then compiles a list of nominees and presents them to a selection committee.
One of the winners this year was the North High School Link Crew, which took home an award in best editing in video/film for its STARS on Point video series.
Senior Jordan Kitchen, one of the members of the group, said that every quarter, the Link Crew team makes videos each day for a week illustrative of the five pillars of the school: Success, Trust, Ambition, Respect and Spirit, highlighting the efforts of students, teachers and faculty.
“I feel like it’s awesome to recognize other schools and see what everyone puts together as a district,” Kitchen said. “I feel like our school has put in a lot of hours and a lot of work. We’ve done a lot to get to where we are.”
The Link Crew team also was nominated for best in film/video but did not win.
One of the other PEAAK winners on Wednesday was Ridgeview High student Alex Cuevas, who took home the most inspirational award.
Cuevas said he was badly injured in a car accident last August and had to go through a long recovery process. Once he was healed up enough, he returned to his cross country team and helped lead it to its first Central Section title this year.
“I’ve just tried being an inspiration to others, telling them never to doubt themselves and know that there’s always a positive side,” he said.
Cuevas’ team was also nominated for best bemorable moment for its title win but didn’t earn the award. One of his teammates is Gerardo Moreno, who also attended the awards ceremony.
“It feels kind of surreal,” he said of the team’s wild season. “From the beginning of the season, the way we started to the way we finished was crazy. Our growth was exponential.”
Chance Rubalcado, who transferred to South High this school year after previously attending Shafter High earlier in the year, was nominated for an outstanding achievement in acting award for his lead performance in “Peter and the Starcatcher” at Shafter High.
He also participated in theater productions at South High, one of which was “The Time Traveling Love Paradox of Camp Punikaka in 4-D,” which won an outstanding original live theatrical production award.
“When I got nominated for things from both schools, it made me feel pride that I’ve never felt before because I’m able to show people that you can’t just give up on your dreams because you change where you are. You keep going no matter what happens,” he said.
Rubalcado said he really appreciates the PEAAK Awards and hopes that other students will get involved in athletics and other activities.
“Those people who don’t believe that they’re good at anything, sooner or later they will get chosen and when that happens, they’re just going to be given that applause that they’ve always needed, and it’s just going to show them that everyone can do something,” he said.
The Mayor’s Trophy was given prior to Wednesday’s ceremony to Garces Memorial High School student Molly Soper. The trophy is awarded each year to a senior for their athletic performance, academic achievement, leadership and community service.
Joseph Luiz can be reached at 661-395-7368. Follow him on Twitter: @JLuiz_TBC.