SANTA MARIA, Cal -

The Saints came marching back to Santa Maria High School on Friday morning. About 100 alumni of the school returned to take part in “March of the Saints.” The event, now in its third year, is a way for past students to connect with current students and speak to them about their educational and professional experiences.

"We're trying to bridge the gap between what high school students see as possibilities for them and what's reality,” said Aurora Ruvalcaba, Chairperson of Active Alumni Academia, which organizes the event.

Ruvalcaba says event is especially important because students are able to speak with former students who have walked in the same hallways as they do. "That's the key part, them understanding that this isn't some stranger, it's somebody who shared very similar experiences with them and maybe somebody who took the exact same class with the exact same teacher."

Former students came from all over the United States to take part in the five hour event, including those who have or are currently attending schools in the University of California system and Cal State system.

Senior Fernando Herrera, who is hoping to pursue a career in the film industry, and excited about receiving insight into the college experience. "March of the Saints is a great opportunity to network with people, not just any other people, but Santa Maria High School alumni,” said Herrera. “It’s really inspiring to meet them and hear some of their stories."

While some students like Herrera will be moving on to college next year, many like sophomore Elizabeth Lopez still have a few years to go. However, the event is also aimed at younger students like Lopez so they too can start thinking about plans after high school. "You get to meet people that are in some careers you might be interested in and. You talk to them and then you get to know who the school is, the campus and all that stuff."

March of the Saints also included booths with representatives from on-campus clubs and sports teams. “It's important to show students, that may otherwise be deprived of opportunities to interact with a variety of college educated professionals, a chance to meet someone from similar social and economic experience that have been able to use education to climb the social ladder,” said Ruvalcaba.

Ruvalcaba noted March of the Saints is put on by alumni hoping to give back to their alma mater. “While I wish that I had met such a strong, determined group of Alumni sharing the same message of expanding possibilities while I was attending Santa Maria High School, I am honored to be able to do that for current students now. March of the Saints Alumni Day has become a tradition that I hope continues for many more years to come.”