Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High School graduate Nathan Palacios jumps for joy as his classmates toss their caps after graduating June 1.
Commencement ceremonies for Los Altos and Mountain View high school seniors took place Friday under blue skies and near-perfect weather.
The sunny day offered a promising start to the next phase in these young people’s lives, as they walked off the stages last week with their diplomas and congratulations from school officials for their achievements.
The newly minted graduates have received a top-notch education and have been exposed to various opportunities for social and civic engagement. It’s time now for the Class of 2012 to use these tools to make the world a better place. Good luck, Class of 2012.
View more scenes from last week’s ceremonies on Page 6. For the complete lists of graduates, see the Schools section.
Los Altos High School
Los Altos High School’s commencement ceremonies began with a touch of stand-up comedy, as co-masters-of-ceremony Kjerstie Olson and Simon Rosenbaum, both graduating seniors, released a lengthy swallow metaphor in lieu of a flock of actual birds.
High-schoolers wing through the grades “searching for the proverbial place of rest,” Olson said, and learn over time that “high school really isn’t the end of the world,” Rosenbaum concluded.
The emcees lauded their school’s 18-point gain on the Academic Performance Index and urged their classmates on “to the uncharted territory that flies beyond the solar panels in the parking lot.”
Principal Wynne Satterwhite said it was difficult to capture the Class of 2012 in a speech, explaining, “I believe what defines them is not what they have accomplished, but how they have accomplished so much” and praising a commitment to ethics that underlies the group’s ambitions.
“They have accomplished it all,” she said, “and achieved their goals while being honorable, principled persons.”
Looking forward, she acknowledged that specific skills weren’t enough in a world where “the status quo is no longer enough” and said that this group’s ability to see the world differently and approach problems creatively suited them for the path ahead.
Satterwhite was the first of several speakers to summon the specter of Steve Jobs, repeating his toast to the round pegs in square holes “crazy enough to think they can change the world.”
Kristina Volovich won the Paul S. Sakamoto Community Service Award. Eagle awards recognizing community building went to Salvador Chavez, Yasmeen Serhan, Justin Solle and Jamshed Vesuna.
Senior speakers Anny Dow and Jade Hua compared high school to a relay race, and Ben Macedo described the tenacity of students who picked themselves up and crossed the finish line. Serhan remarked that students can’t plan out everything in life, and that “high school is a time to try new things out,” returning to the venerable Jobs to quote his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward – you can only connect them looking backwards,” she quoted. “So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Mountain View High School
Mountain View High School’s 110th class began their graduation ceremony with remarks from Jasmine Flake, senior class president.
“As I look back on these past four years at Mountain View High School, I can’t help but realize how much we have all grown,” she said. “High school is our blank, white canvas, and we grabbed the brushes and painted our hearts out until we created the beautiful paintings of who we have become today.”
Flake commended families and friends in the crowd for their contributions to the graduates’ success and asked her fellow students to look forward.
“Together we are finally about to take off with the wings we’ve been growing for the past 18 years that can’t wait to fly,” she said. “Together we are walking straight into the unknown as ready as we’ll ever be.”
Principal Keith Moody offered the Class of 2012 words of encouragement.
“You are now well prepared to start your quest to make your place in the world,” he said. “As you strive to operationalize your dreams, I offer some encouragement that all things are possible.”
In their speech, graduating seniors Craig Marker and Kamron Sarhadi jokingly compared the high school experience to jellyfish and toilet paper – “you never know which one is going to sting you.”
After claiming they didn’t have the right to define everyone’s high school experience, Marker and Sarhadi explained how they appreciated their class for their individual efforts.
“I think we can all recognize the individual dedication that makes the Class of 2012 so diverse, so well-rounded and destined for greatness,” Marker said.
“Tonight we are successful high school graduates – let us celebrate,” Sarhadi said. “Tomorrow our future begins.”
Students Benjamin Garber and Dor Gvirtsman offered a comical back-and-forth about the trite quotes that usually mark graduation ceremonies.
They presented an overview of what they learned in high school, including “three AP classes and choir just don’t mix.”
“Although we know that in college you can’t have good grades, a social life and sleep all at the same time,” Gvirtsman said. “high school has truly taught us how to live.”
After students received their diplomas, the Madrigals sang “Ripple Effect” to the new graduates.
As the sun set, graduates filed out to “Pomp and Circumstance” and gathered at the football field’s goal post, where they participated in their final act as a class – flinging their caps in the air in celebration of the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
Alta Vista High School
Families and friends celebrated the graduation of Alta Vista High School’s Class of 2012 May 30.
Alta Vista, the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District’s alternative high school, provides an accredited program for students whose needs are not met in traditional high schools.
“When people hear the words ‘Alta Vista,’ they think it is a place for delinquents,” said Cynthia Roldan, a senior who spoke at the ceremony. “How wrong these people are. The people behind me are young adults ready to take on the real world. We may not have a prom or grad night, but we have something far more precious: We have proven to the world and ourselves that we have the drive to succeed and we are not ashamed of who we are.”
Graduates accepted congratulations from district board members and received a rose and a diploma as they strode across the stage.