Dressed for Success: Burbank Noon Rotary Outfits Monterey High’s Class of 2024

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Monterey High School seniors Greg Dibie, Cynthia Lopez, and Jerry Hernandez dropped by the school office to check out the graduation gowns donated by Burbank Noon Rotary.

There’s no question that Monterey High School seniors have earned the right to wear a cap and gown for the march across the stage at the school’s graduation on May 24.

But until today, MHS students who wanted to wear graduation regalia had to buy the cap and gown to wear, at a cost of $70 and up.

Thanks to the Burbank Noon Rotary and a grant from Rotary District 5280, MHS now boasts a collection of 150 graduation gowns, available in all sizes, easing the financial burden for every student.

Burbank Noon Rotary President Darrin Borders outside of Monterey High School in Burbank, as the club delivered graduation gowns and caps.

Monterey High School offers an alternative educational experience tailored to students facing challenges in the traditional high school system or who do not feel successful on a large campus. Many come from low-income backgrounds, confronting obstacles at home, and some lack stable housing. At MHS, students receive a second chance to thrive in an environment customized to their needs, with specialized learning techniques.

Many of these students initially attended John Burroughs or Burbank High School but discovered that Monterey better aligned with their needs, offering them a supportive environment where they could thrive. “Just because they end their student career here, it doesn’t mean that the work they did at Burbank or Burroughs vanishes,” Principal April Weaver emphasized.

Weaver expressed her gratitude for the donation, stating, “If they work this hard to graduate, they shouldn’t have to pay extra for the gown.” This sentiment holds true as some MHS graduates choose to participate in ceremonies at Burbank or Burroughs High Schools, in addition to Monterey High’s.

Senior Greg Dibie is excited to graduate this May and will begin college classes in English and criminal justice at Los Angeles Valley College this summer while continuing to work at Raising Cane’s. A change in schools and the COVID-19 pandemic caused him to fall behind in his coursework, but he found support at Monterey High School, where he regained his footing.

“All the MHS teachers are like family,” Dibie said.

The Burbank Noon Rotary Community Service Committee, led by Stephanie Laing and comprising about 12 Rotarians, played a crucial role in planning and executing this project. Multiple members donated financially, and seven facilitated the pickup and delivery of the graduation attire from Academic Apparel in Chatsworth to the Burbank school.

Laing emphasized the lasting impact of the project, noting it will benefit each graduating student for years to come. “This first order of gowns also comes with caps and tassels for the Class of 2024 as keepsakes for this milestone. Our Rotary Club plans to purchase caps and tassels for each graduating class every year moving forward,” Laing said.

Burbank Noon Rotary Club President Darrin Borders highlighted the collective effort. “We come together to help where it’s needed,” Borders said. “Whether providing disaster relief, building clean water projects in Ecuador, or buying graduation gowns for local students, we’re helping build a better world locally and internationally.”