The La Canada Flintridge Annual Interfaith Baccalaureate Service – for graduating seniors from local high schools and their families – was held under the oaks at La Canada Presbyterian Church last Thursday, with approximately 250 people in attendance.
The keynote address was given by Chris Erskine, a prominent local author who also has a son graduating this year.
“Let me tell you: I have so much respect for this graduating class,” said Erskine to the grads. “You’ve had a turbulent 18 years, born after 9/11, raised amid political turmoil and now a pandemic. You could be cynical, and without joy.
“But you are funny and inspiring. Thank you for that. Seriously. Thank you for your resilience. Your laughter. Your heart.”
“Did you know that when you place sunflowers in a vase, sunflowers turn toward the sun? Just as you’d expect, right? But when placed in a dark room, in a sunless environment, sunflowers will turn toward each other,” Erskine added. “That’s what you did the last year — you turned toward each other. I hope you will continue to do that.”
Other highlights included five students – Lonnie Blanchard, Kayley Bond, Seema Kayali, Leah Laska-Sandleman and Jaden Milbrodt – giving their testimonies, all from different faith traditions. The audience also enjoyed a recorded version or “Hear My Prayer,” sung by the La Canada High School Choral Artists. The benediction was given by the Monsignor Antonio Cacciapuoti of St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church.
The LCF Interfaith Planning team members are listed in the program (photo).
“I think Baccalaureate is the most meaningful of all the traditional graduation celebrations,” said Christie Frandsen, chair of the Baccalaureate Committee. “We had to cancel our event last year due to the pandemic, but we found a way to do it safely this year, outdoors, everyone masked and safely distanced, but that special spirit of love and faith was stronger than ever. We have seen, over the past few months, just how suddenly the basic structures of our lives can fall apart: school, jobs, social interaction, even our health. It has been devastating.
“Baccalaureate reminds me that there is one foundation that cannot be shaken and that can carry us through these rough times: our faith in God,” Frandsen added. “That faith is strong and vibrant in the lives of these young graduates. And that’s why I love Baccalaureate.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s 88th graduation ceremony was held at Crane Field this past Sunday, June 6.
“After a year of so much separation, this is an amazing moment to be able to celebrate the tremendous achievement of these graduates together,” said Sister Carolyn McCormick, FSHA’s president.
Delaney Miller sang the Dominican blessing and Angelina Reddy the Alma Mater.
Commencement speaker Drew Washington, a member of FSHA’s class of 2012 and graduate from UC Berkeley School of Law, was the Rose Queen as a high school senior.
As the program neared the end, seven FSHA legacy families were recognized for having three or more girls having graduated from FSHA.
The graduating seniors’ traditional rose petal toss concluded the ceremony.
Due to social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols, La Canada High School 8th graders had their promotion ceremonies divided into two separate events – one for School 3 and the other for School 4, both of which were held on campus on June 2.
After opening with “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the 7/8 Band and Orchestra, the flag salute was led by ASB President Seth Larsen and Claire Lin for School 3; Kelly Sellman led the flag salute for School 4. The National Anthem was sung by the 7/8 Honor Choir. A special solo (Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up”) was sung by Kat Sears for School 3, and the trio of Kate Chun, Vani Gupta and Kelly Sellman sang Pink’s “Cover Me in Sunshine” during the School 4 ceremony.
Promotion addresses were delivered by Seth Larsen in School 3 and Vani Gupta in School 4.
There were also special award presentations during the respective ceremonies. The Scoville-Tupper Award was presented to Talia Sverdlik and Kelly Sellman, the Principal’s Award went to David Gilles and Michael Cho, the Excellence in Scholarship Award was presented to Maddy McClure and Luke Rogez, and the Participation and Engagement Award went to Lorelei Rocca and Sofia Flores-Sirolli.
“The accomplishments so many of you have made up to this point are to be remembered and cherished,” LCHS 7/8 Principal Jarrett Gold told the students. “Always believe in yourself and what you can do. Remember that you can accomplish anything you want with desire, drive and hard work. I am confident that every one of you has the ability to change the world. Don’t settle, don’t quit and never give up on any and all dreams you have.”
The Rose Bowl Stadium packed with more than 90,000 spectators is a sight to behold, but it was just as grand last week when it was the site of an unforgettable 2021 La Cañada High School commencement ceremony and attendees filled barely more than 1% of the landmark’s capacity.
About 1,450 people gathered — socially distanced, of course — at the stadium to celebrate a senior class that spent the majority of its final high school year at home in front of a computer screens and listening to teachers via Zoom. Schools throughout the state pivoted to distance learning in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, creating a new generation of learners known as “Zoomers.”
After a difficult year marked by a coronavirus that killed more than 24,000 Los Angeles County residents, destructive wildfires in the area and a presidential election that divided a nation, it was perhaps natural that the theme of all of the commencement speakers was gratitude.
“This last year has been anything but simple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the wildfires, the presidential election and the Black Lives Matter movement to name a few,” graduating senior Seema Kavali told her classmates. “If there’s any takeaway from this whole experience, it’s that we have learned to be appreciative, creative and patient, tools we can carry along with us as we continue our journey in life.
“We were forced to grow up quickly and process the world unfolding around us. What you go through now, tomorrow, next year and so on prepares you for what has to come next. I am so proud of all of us.”
Madeleine Reinoso expressed a similar sentiment in her speech, saying that “the year was far from perfect, but it was ours. Regardless of all the hardships and challenges we faced this past year, we persevered and made it here today.”
Jack Salcido and Noah Truong teamed up to deliver a speech that introduced some levity and described a day in the life of a senior “Zoomer, defined by their reclusive nature, lack of an official SAT score and hypersomnia despite waking at 11 a.m. every single [day]. Zoomers are the result of nearly unlimited screen time and a year of isolation.”
The two Spartans, like the entire class of 2021, made the most of their distance learning experience and reminded classmates of what the group accomplished. They celebrated ways in which the senior class was a pioneer — such as being the first to have its own Chromebooks provided by the La Cañada Unified School District, to take physics freshman year, to begin class at 8:30 a.m. all four years instead of the “dreaded” 7:30 a.m. start time that was changed four years ago, and to have a prom held on campus.
Principal Jim Cartnal gave the final speech and returned to the theme of gratitude, saying, “That we’re here is the victory. Together, in person, on one of the grandest stages in the land. And that we are here says a great deal about who we are as a learning community and what we value.”
“While many other school communities struggled with access, struggled with engagement and struggled with campus cohesion, our students and families remain committed to our core value that education matters, learning matters and that you matter,” Cartnal said. “ … Other hard times will no doubt come, but you know how to respond because you kept working, you kept applying yourself, you kept caring and you gave everything that you could to be successful, and I’m so grateful.”
Clark Magnet High School celebrated its graduating senior class of 2021 with an in-person ceremony on the campus field on Thursday, June 10. Nearly 270 students gathered in front of their families, with a limit of four persons per graduate, to receive their diplomas. There were remarks from ASB President Ani Sahakyan and Clark Magnet Principal Lena Kortoshian. Assistant Principal Brian Landisi presented the candidates for Valedictorian and Salutorian, which were Anaida Haroutiunian, Elen Hovhannisyan, Arpi Keshishian, Cyrus Motallebi and Arno Tatos.
Foothill Area Community Transition Services (FACTS) held its 2021 spring graduation on Friday, June 11, at the Glendale High School’s Moyse Field. “We are so proud of our graduates,” said Principal Tammy Taylor. “They have shown such persistence and resilience this year and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate their accomplishments.”
FACTS presented graduation certificates to 21 students during the ceremony, which included a welcome from Assistant Principal Evan Robb and opening remarks from Principal Taylor.
Allan F. Daily High School and Verdugo Academy’s graduation ceremony was held outdoors this year in a socially-distanced event at Glendale High School’s Moyse Field on Friday, June 11. The two schools shared a ceremony highlighting the students’ achievements and included speeches by Anthony Faalnik and Agatha Grigorian of Allan F. Daily High School and Verdugo Academy, respectively.
Awards were presented by Lonny Root and Christin Molino, with GUSD Superintendent Vivian Ekchian presenting the graduating class and Shant Sahakian of the GUSD Board of Education conferring the diplomas. In total, the Class of 2021 for Allan F. Daily High School and Verdugo Academy awarded approximately 100 diplomas to students. Each of the graduates in attendance was given the opportunity to present a rose to an individual who impacted their life this past year.
More than 600 Crescenta Valley High School students graduated on the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium’s field in a morning ceremony on Friday, June 11. CVHS senior class of 2021 officers Andrew Alan Kim, Chloe Ataya, Sebastian DeLeon and Brendon Pehar participated in the ceremony, while classmates Angela Ter-Vardanyan and Shant Kevorkian each delivered a senior address.
Principal Linda Junge presented the Class of 2021, GUSD Superintendent Vivian Ekchian recognized the class, and Nayiri Nahabedian and Gregory Krikorian helped present diplomas.
The Glendale High School Class of 2021 – consisting of 525 seniors – had the unique opportunity of holding its graduation ceremony at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena on Thursday, June 10. “Everyone at Glendale High School is so proud of the Class of 2021, who met the unique challenges of the past year under COVID with perseverance,” said Principal Benjamin Wolf. ASB President Kayla Rodriguez and Senior Class President Arline Daniali addressed the audience, and Salutatorian Lara Heredia and Valedictorian Alec Baghdasarians were recognized before the graduates received their diplomas.
Approximately 350 Hoover High School students received their diplomas at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium on Thursday, June 10. The event was held with adherence to COVID-19 protocols and safety measures.
Student speeches were presented by ASB President Maria Akhverdyan, Senior Class co-Presidents Monnet Nadimyan and Lucas Omori, and Ninel Azizian.
Hoover’s Principal Jennifer Earl delivered the welcome address. GUSD Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, Asst, Superintendent Kelly King, Board of Education members Armina Gharpetian and Shant Sahakian and Evette Vartanian Davis of the GCC Board of Trustees presented the class of 2021.