Photo By: Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
High school graduations remain special, a rite of passage as we cross over the line from children to adults. It’s a tradition as ingrained in our way of life as Fourth of July picnics and Super Bowls. The familiar strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” fill the air, reminding us that life itself passes by quickly and we need to fully appreciate these moments.
Our local graduates of 2013 have now completed that rite of passage. It’s a time of celebration, but also anxiety. From this point on, life poses increasing responsibilities with diminishing help from parents. But as our grads have shown through their early successes, they’ll meet the challenges ahead.
Los Altos High School
Families, friends and the Los Altos High School community gathered on Los Altos High School’s track and field Friday to celebrate the Class of 2013.
Student Masters of Ceremonies Tyler Polen and Ideen Seyed greeted the crowd and shared the top 10 reasons graduating from Los Altos High School was great for the Class of 2013. Topping the list were the class’ efforts toward creating a positive culture.
“We have chosen to have fun over the past four years,” Seyed said, followed by loud applause from her fellow graduates. “We are inclusive, competitive and always make the best of our situations. From floats to tug-of-war to dodgeball and athletic events this class has always been there – ready to get involved.”
Principal Wynne Satterwhite praised the Class of 2013 for their philanthropy and their passion, which “extends beyond their own dreams and desires.
“Today is your day, Class of 2013,” she said. “Choose your path carefully. Take action. Do something. Respect yourself and others. Find your passion and share it. You get to choose where you go, and I for one can’t wait to see the great places you’ll go and the world you’ll create.”
Vanessa Barajas’ speech contained both English and Spanish portions. She shared what she learned during her four years at Los Altos High.
“We all went through some hard times in high school,” Barajas said. “Every time we thought we weren’t going to make it to the finish line, we stumbled, we got back up and today we finished.”
Barajas concluded with a message of advice to her class, “We have waited four years for this moment. Make it count and wherever you are going, make it worth it.”
Student speaker Michael Johnson, who has a self-proclaimed passion for food, compared his educational experience to eating at his favorite restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory.
The baked bread and appetizers represent the elementary and junior high preparation for high school, while the main course was freshmen, sophomore and junior years. Senior year was the dessert, which was “savored.”
“Now our meal is coming to a close, but don’t you worry, you will be hungry again,” Johnson said. “The most beautiful thing about being full is that it never lasts. We will have many meals to come, but wherever your next meal will be – be it Chipotle, the workforce, the military, college – I hope you enjoy every bite you take.”
Student speaker Jerry Liu recounted his class’ many successes, citing “The Great Gatsby” as all the students are just waiting for their green light.
“It’s been a long ride Class of 2013, and I wish you all the best of luck,” he said.
– Traci Newell
For photos of Los Altos High School's graduation ceremony, click here.
Mountain View High School
Mountain View High School’s commencement ceremonies began when Senior Class President Kevin Bastoul introduced the graduating class.
The reality that his class was graduating, Bastoul said, didn’t sink in until that morning, when he arrived on campus and viewed the multitude of empty white chairs. As the sun beat down on the friends and family who filled those chairs, Bastoul recounted some of his favorite memories from homecoming festivities to basketball games against longtime rivals. He affirmed that even as the graduates move onto differing futures, they would remain united as a class.
“As we make our individual paths, the same heartbeat will carry us all forward,” Bastoul said.
Principal Keith Moody began his remarks by thanking key individuals and school board members. After announcing that the class of 2013 had once again ranked in the top 2 percent of all American high schools, he reminded the graduates that all things are possible.
“My wish is that you all win your own personal Super Bowl,” Moody said.
Libertine Circle, a band formed by graduates Henri Boulanger, Kyle Dewitt and Greg Manoukian, provided a musical respite during the ceremony. They thanked their supporters before performing their original song “Down the Road.”
Graduates Arman Jaffer and Viet Nguyen styled their speech as a letter to their parents. They thanked their parents for the support and encouragement – from the beginnings of dragging them to preschool to listening to their problems. They added their apprehensions of moving forward in a future without their families beside them.
“We’re scared that one day we’ll be on our own,” Jaffer said.
Nguyen added, “Compared to this, puberty was a walk in the park.”
Jaffer and Nguyen closed by adding that even though they might change in the future, they will always be the same kids deep down.
“We’ll always be the same kid who dressed as Harry Potter for Halloween five years in a row,” Nguyen said.
After the graduates received their diplomas, the Madrigals sang “My Wish For You,” arranged by Andrew Carter.
For their final gesture, the graduates ceremoniously moved their tassels before heading to the football goalpost. As the students threw up their caps, parents cheered, foghorns blared and cameras flashed – a fitting end to the high school experience.
– Sophie Ho
Alta Vista High School
Families and friends celebrated the graduation of Alta Vista High School’s Class of 2013 May 29.
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.
Student speaker Joyce Dizon emphasized the qualities that make Alta Vista such a wonderful place to attend school.
“Look at the person next to you,” Dizon told her fellow graduating class. “Think of all the things they have accomplished to sit in that seat. If someone asked me what hope, believing and success look like – I’m looking at it right now.”
Michael Aguilar spoke of the journey and hardships his fellow classmates faced throughout high school.
“It’s really important for everyone to recognize that Alta Vista graduates are among the strongest people in our society today,” he said. “There is no doubt in my mind that my fellow graduates won’t have a hard time taking on any challenge in the future. For Alta Vista students, there isn’t a challenge in the world big enough they can’t overcome.”
Dizon and Aguilar also thanked the Alta Vista staff for helping to push them to the finish line.
Student Ana Aviles sang for her fellow graduates and audience members.
District board members congratulated each graduate as they presented the diplomas and a rose in recognition of their achievements.
– Traci Newell
For photos of Alta Vista High School's graduation ceremony, click here.
MVLA Adult Education
At the Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education Program’s graduation Thursday, a record 113 students earned their high school diplomas or equivalency degrees.
The buzz of young children’s voices throughout the event provided a nonstop reminder of what motivated many of the young people on the stage at Mountain View High School’s Spartan Theater. Over and over, new graduates cited their young children as their inspiration to get an education while continuing to work and support their families.
District Superintendent Barry Groves noted that adult schools across the state have been under siege this year due to funding cuts. He celebrated the local emphasis on preserving adult education as a community priority. Local groups, including Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, awarded a total of nearly $20,000 in scholarships at the graduation.
Ruth Sherer, delivering five scholarships from the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation, saluted students Emerit Cisneros, a single, working mom who has plans to become a paramedic, and Martin Perez, who dropped out of school at 16 to work but is now determined to be the first in his family to graduate from college. Perez will enroll at Foothill College and major in business. Oscar Jimenez and his wife Luz Garcia-0Gomez graduated together and received scholarships to continue their education as “a beautiful team,” Sherer said.
Cintia Loaiza, a familiar face in Rick’s Cafe in downtown Los Altos, described balancing her work as a server with her dreams of becoming a teacher. After serving as a mentor at Camp Everytown, she became dedicated to leading young people and resolved to return to school and take the GED. Years earlier, she had dropped out of high school after finding she couldn’t sustain classes by day and a job that kept her at work from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“I know we have a long road ahead of us, but I know that we are all determined to better our lives, and we have chosen education as a way to do it,” she told the audience.
– Eliza Ridgeway