84 Seniors Receive Jackets of Excellence


Polina Asaulyuk, Reporter

Venice High recognized the exceptional academic achievements of 84 seniors in its annual Jackets of Excellence award ceremony last Thursday. 

Every recipient was awarded a letterman’s jacket with grey or white sleeves that signify the outstanding academic achievement of each student. The jackets are personalized with the students’ names and the Venice High logo embroidered on the front of the jacket, along with a distinctly printed phrase, “academic excellence.”

According to the qualifications set by the school, a student is eligible to receive the award if they have a GPA of 3.75 or above, no more than seven absences per year, and have received no more than three combined “unsatisfactory” marks during their time at Venice. They also must have attended Venice for at least two years, not including senior year.

Senior Ann Watkins, a recipient of a Jacket of Excellence, said that her road to academic success wasn’t always easy, but the award makes her feel like her hard work has paid off.  

“I feel happy about getting the jacket,” she said. “It made it feel like all the struggles I’ve gone through academically have finally paid off. The jacket is like a symbol of having gotten through it.”

Senior Anthony Carmona, another recipient of the award, said that he feels honored to receive the jacket. 

“It’s an honor to receive such a prestigious award from the four years of hard work and dedication I put into my academics at Venice High,” he said. “Although I am only one out of 84 people who received this jacket, the credit goes to them as well as me for the journeys we, the Class of 2022, experienced.” 

This year, the Jackets of Excellence ceremony was virtual. Staff, students, and their families were invited to participate in the ceremony by joining a Zoom webinar.

According to the school’s principal Cynthia Headrick, the ceremony was online because it was planned in September, when the school district did not allow for any after-hours in-person events on campus. 

“If I pushed right now, and asked the district to have something in person, they would probably say yes, but it takes so long to plan these things,” she said. “We started planning right in the beginning of the year, and the district said absolutely not.” 

Senior Anthony Carmona said that the ceremony was not as special as it could’ve been in person, but he was still glad to attend it. 

“Regardless of the setting, it was great to see my name, face, and jacket being displayed and called on,” he said.  

Senior Ann Watkins said that although she wishes the ceremony happened in person, she believes that hosting a virtual ceremony made it more accessible to people. 

“My grandma got to watch the Zoom from her home, and I know it was safer for her to watch it at home without putting herself in a risky situation,” she said. 

Not every student who is eligible for the Jacket of Excellence will automatically receive the award. The school requires that the students who wish to be considered for the award fill out a formal application and place an order for their jacket. 

According to college counselor Heather Brown, the organizer of the ceremony, it is possible that not every eligible student received the award. 

“There is an application, so it is possible that somebody who qualifies may not have made an application,” she said. “Although we worked really hard to try and track down everybody, and make sure that if they were eligible, they applied.” 

The jackets are provided to the recipients for free. The money used to purchase the jackets comes from fundraisers, including a partnership Venice High has with the Venice Chamber of Commerce. 

The Venice Chamber of Commerce has an education committee which leads the fundraising each year. 

Brown said that she believes the Jackets of Excellence to be a prestigious award that is meant to uplift the students who have managed to stay on top of their academics, but in no way bring down those students who have not received the award. 

“Despite the fact that we’re celebrating this group, it’s important that everybody else understands that it doesn’t make them less than anything,” she said. “They are still outstanding, excellent, and amazing students.”

For many students like Watkins, the jackets serve as a symbol of their personal achievement. She said that she plans on making her jacket even more personal.

“I’m planning on adding a softball and ’22 patch just to personalize my jacket and really make it feel special,” she said.