Our Town’s 18th Annual Graduation Issue: Part 1

By Joanne A Calitri   |   June 11, 2020

Our community of schools held their 2020 graduation ceremonies through online Zoom graduations, school drive by parades with their teachers, one in-person ceremony with directives from the health department and two schools opted to postpone an in-person ceremony till later this year. The number of graduates are 186: Montecito Union 58, Cold Spring 20, Crane Country Day 35, Our Lady of Mt Carmel 15, Laguna Blanca Lower 19, El Montecito Early School 23, and Montecito YMCA Preschool 16. The graduations are covered in two news reports published this and next week.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Graduation

Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) 2020 Eight Grade Graduation was held on Friday, May 29 at 5 pm at the school for the graduates and parents, and via livestream for guests. Prior to graduation, faculty members delivered to the graduates’ homes their gowns, diploma covers, goodie bags, and yard signs.

This year the graduation, usually inside the church, took place outside in the school’s grassy recreation area with social distancing, masks, and gloves. Opening the ceremony was acoustic guitar music by Ted Garner, who also performed music during the ceremony. Present were Principal Tracie Simolon, 8th Grade teachers Denise Jackson, Eun Kim and Marybeth Lee, and OLMC Church Pastor Fr. Lawrence Seyer.

Ms Simolon welcomed the graduates and parents. Fr. Seyer led the Liturgy of the Word and gospel, accompanied by student readers. His sermon, “Let this faith grow like the mustard seed and become a baseline in your life.” He then blessed the graduates’ autobiographies they wrote to their parents. Ms Jackson addressed the students, “You are joyous, resilient, gentle, brave, and above all else friends, having survived three life tragedies during your time in school, fires, mudslides and COVID. We want to recognize each of you with the gift of a Celtic Cross. The Cross represents the eternity of God’s love for you, and the decorative elements inside the cross represent oak leaves, which symbolize strength, resilience and generosity.”

Ms Simolon called the Award Winners who stood when mentioned:

Alter Server Awards: Isabel Arroyo, Sophia Fernandes, Angelique Huey, Noah Peterson, and Isabella Ricci. U.S. President’s Education Awards Outstanding Academic Excellence: Isabel Arroyo, Sophia Fernandes, Gabriela Ochoa, Presley O’Hearn and Noah Peterson.

U.S. President’s Education Awards Outstanding Academic Achievement: Vivian Caesar, Danica Damiani, Angelique Huey, Avery Lanford, Maia Pakes, and Isabella Ricci.

Lancer of the Year: Maia Pakes. Citizen of the Year: Isabel Arroyo and Mason Jarchow.

Spirit Award: Vivian Caesar. Faculty Award: Presley O’Hearn. Red Cord of Merit: Vivian Caesar, Whitney Meister, Gabriela Ochoa, Isabella Ricci and Augustine Wooten. Gold Cord of Honor: Isabel Arroyo, Danica Damiani, Sophia Fernandes, Angelique Huey, Avery Lanford, Presley O’Hearn, Maia Pakes, and Noah Peterson.

Ms Lee read a poem she wrote to the students based on the poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Dr. Maya Angelou, which she adopted for the class and re-titled, “Phenomenal Class.” Next, Student Council President Vivian Caesar gave the class address, “Mt. Carmel School taught us to be achievers, leaders, hard workers, team players and to love one another.”

Ms Simolon and Ms Jackson presented the diplomas to the students. Ms Simolon said, “We are so proud of you and pleased to celebrate your accomplishments. When I think of your class I see joy, light, and lots of smiles. C.S. Lewis said, ‘Do not shine so that others can see you, shine so that through you others can see God.’ Graduates continue to shine that light so that through you they will see Christ. Congratulations class of 2020. Through fires, floods and social distancing your spirit of joy and love for each other grew even stronger. You are resilient and strong, and we are so proud of you. We wish you much success and happiness as you begin the next chapter.” In closing the ceremony, Fr. Seyer told everyone they are welcome always at Mt. Carmel and blessed them.

The 2020 OLMC Eighth Grade graduates are: Isabel Jean Arroyo, Vivian Grace Caesar, Angelique Lily Huey, Danica Sophia Damiani, Sophia Fernandes, Sebastian Camilo Hernandez, Mason Ryder Jarchow, Avery Kathleen Lanford, Whitney Rae Meister, Gabriela Ochoa Medeiros, Presley Scarlett O’Hearn, Maia Nicole Pakes, Noah Henry Peterson, Isabella Daphne, Thea Ricci, and Augustine Avery Wooten.

Laguna Blanca Lower School Graduation

The Head of Laguna Blanca Lower School Dr. Andy Surber and Fourth Grade Teacher Ms Farrah Martin announced, “Due to COVID-19 we plan to honor our fourth-grade graduates at the upper school in September. In lieu of a closing ceremony this June, our students and their families will participate in a Zoom story time Wednesday, June 3 at 7 pm, and June 4 a drive-through parade on our Montecito campus with their teachers and Swoop the school’s Owl Mascot.”

I attended the virtual story time moderated by Dr. Surber. Music Teacher Molly Markstrum read “This Jazzman” by Karen Ehrhardt, Art Teacher Courtney Guay read “Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood” by F. Isabel Campoy, School Librarian Palmer Hardy read “The Day The Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt, Dr. Surber read “Oh I Wish I Could Read” by John Gile and Frank Fiorello, and former school librarian Meredith Brace read “Just Like You” by Jan Fearnley.

For graduation wishes, Ms Martin wrote, “I so admire the tenacious spirits of Laguna Blanca’s fourth-grade leaders. With their collective positivity and resilience, they have risen to each and every challenge. Whether displaced by the debris flows in 2018 or this year’s pandemic crisis, these brave Owls continue to soar! We applaud their every effort and look forward to honoring them in person this fall as they fly up to the Hope Ranch campus as fifth graders.”

And Dr. Andy Surber wrote, “When I reflect on this fourth-grade class, I can’t help but smile. These amazing students are the definition of persistence, tenacity, caring, and friendship. Members of this class started Laguna Blanca’s Early Kindergarten program and have been pioneers ever since. Their combined efforts in public service were highlighted by the Pianos on State project, and their leadership on our charming Lower School campus will be missed. Special appreciations to all the families for their continuous support, and we wish everyone well on their new adventures in Middle School!”

The 2020 Laguna Blanca Fourth Grade graduates are: Hartley Abeysekera, Colter Baltes, Maritt Blabey, Juliet Bradley, Sloan Brookshire, Ezren Colson, Abby Connor, Grace Costner, Max Deveze, Kaden Engel, Sydney Fraser, Garrison Goldberg, Grace Goldberg, Jojo Hereford, Saige Mastro-Stern, Lorelei Tate, Paisley Thomson, Paloma Tyler, and Brandon Weaver.

Montecito Union School Graduation

The Montecito Union School (MUS) Sixth Grade 2020 Graduation was held on Thursday, June 4 at 9:30 am via zoom, with Principal Nick Bruski and Superintendent Anthony Ranii at the school, and the 6th-grade teachers and graduates from their homes.

Opening the ceremony was Principal Nick Bruski, followed by student Ella Wickman from home reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The first student address was by Sterling Streatfield. The MUS string quartet played with music teacher Ron Zecher on piano and students on violin and cello.

Superintendent Anthony Ranii thanked the parents for their homeschool partnership and thanked the graduates, “You made it vibrant, alive and creative every single day. You all remained grateful and mastered your studies showing that being a Mustang is not about a place, it is where you are. Be kind and have integrity. We are launching you as inspired thinkers who will positively impact the world. I present this class to the Board of Trustees as met and exceeded the requirements for sixth-grade graduation. We send you off with our love and best wishes.”

Students Sterling Streatfield, Clara Watson, Harper Halbardier, James Faletti and Charles Later gave Student Addresses.

The Zoom was interactive for the announcement of each graduate with a simultaneous 3-box zoom of their teacher live talking about their accomplishments, their formal portrait and the graduate live from home. Sixth-grade teachers are Ms Kim Berman, Ms Katie Nimitarnun, and Ms Danielle Weill.

Ending the ceremony, the students sang the “MUS Graduation Song” by Kenny & Eva Loggins, while the traditional slide show of student memories was played and Principal Bruski thanked everyone.

The 2020 MUS graduates are: Nolan Briggs, Ellen Butler, Jane Clawson, Lyle Dessouky, Sean Dilbeck, Emmett Duncan, Kristian Dybdahl, James Faletti, Kennedy Fitzgerald, Lucas Godoi, Liliana Good-Hidalgo, Westley Graham, Harper Halbardier, Milliana Hamilton, Chase Harrah, Peyton Herlihy, Owen Horn, Sofiah Ilko, Connor Jackson, Stella Kellett, Nikolas Kerber-Snyder, Carmen Lack, Charles Later, Scarlett Lustfield, Sage Malmsten, Apollo Manzarek, Alexandro McClintock, Aiden McDermott, Jackson McDermott, Huxley McGetrick, Grey Miller, Tosh Mouton, Connor Murphy, Rosie Murren-Doherty, Amelia Noble, Gavin Peifer, Caio Pereira, Eliseu Pereira, Mia Pothe, Kira Rameson, Scarlett Ramirez, Mia Richmond, Devon Robinson, Giselle Roden, Noah Roth, Jordan Schmoller, Henry Simon, William Singhass, Lina Smith, Frederick Solan, Sterling Streatfield, Duke Taylor, Emie Valle, Clara Watson, Ella Wickman, Cash Williams, and Kaianna Zertuche.

Cold Spring School Graduation

The Cold Spring School (CSS) Sixth Grade 2020 Graduation was held on Thursday June 4 at 10 am at the school for the graduates and parents with social distancing, masks and gloves, and via live stream for guests. Present were CSS Superintendent and Principal Amy Alzina, teacher Ms Linda Edwards and Instructional Aide Ms Jill Wolf.

The Promotion Awards were presented by their teachers: Alyssa Smelley Citizenship: Isabella Pena and Xavier Guereca. Principal’s Award: Delaney Ball and Owen Schiller. Scholar Athlete: Audrey Aurell and Evryn Kneafsey. Math: Emil Arconian, Jack Alzina, Owen Schiller, Elana Rowan and Xavier Guereca. Drama: Miles Herbert and Kayla Workman. History: Jack Grube and Phillip Contakes. Art: Audrey Skultety and Georgia Brown. Writing: Genevieve Mack, Siena Jensen and Mark Rogers. Music: Delaney Ball and Ava Nafziger.

CSS Superintendent and Principal Amy Alzina gave the welcome and closing remarks. She said, “Go out to the world be strong and courageous and leave your mark to leave our world a better place. The 2019-2020 Cold Spring School sixth grade class is known for its Resilience, Strength, and Teamwork! However, I am adding a new word, Fearlessness. Fearlessness because of their response to the coronavirus and shift to Remote Learning. It is their fearless attitude and their desire to remain united through this period of isolation that defined their character. These students were not afraid of failure and instead embraced the new learning paradigm. They overcame each challenge, maintained a positive attitude, and achieved amazing academic gains. I am so incredibly proud of these students and I look forward to watching them continue to grow and thrive. Congratulations, Cold Spring sixth-grade students!”

Dr. Alzina and Ms Edward and Wolf presented the diplomas to the graduates. In lieu of the traditional reception the graduates and their families held a car parade.

The 2020 CSS graduates are: Jack Alzina, Emil Arconian, Audrey Aurell, Delaney Ball, Georgia Brown, Phillip Contakes, Jack Grube, Xavier Guereca, Miles Herbert, Siena Jensen, Evryn Kneafsey, Genevieve Mack, Ava Nafziger, Isabella Pena, Mark Rogers, Elana Rowan, Frederic Schiller, Audrey Skultety, Makena Taylor, and Kayla Workman.

El Montecito Early School

The El Montecito Early School 2020 graduation was held on Friday, June 5 at 10 am via a drive-through celebration ceremony for the students and their parents at the school parking lot. They were greeted by School Director Miss Suzy, Assistant Director Meika Mosby-McCrindle, Pre-K Teachers Melanie Cuxil and Casey Smith, and the El Montecito Early School Staff Monica Aijian, Brandon Kinalele, Haley McDonald, Lisa Salgado,and Jenna Thompson.

The teachers held up posters and the students received their children’s bible as per tradition. Miss Suzy, “Our graduating group of children are sharp young people, they have shown their flexibility and positive outlook time and time again. As the El Montecito community, we are proud to have a hand in the growth and development of our future generation. Our graduation song lyrics best summarize our message for the children to remember: “I am a promise, I am a possibility, I am a great big bundle of potentiality, I am learning to hear God’s voice, I am trying to make the right choice and I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be!”

El Montecito Early School 2020 graduates: Adaline Yonker, Catherine “Katie” Borzouei, Clementine Joffrey, Colette Carty, Eliana Lopez-Hollis, Ethan Jensen, Fenna McCrindle, Gabriel Hoernicke, Graham MacPhail, Grant Bragg, Hazel Hernandez, Isabella Newman, Jackson Moore, Kasey Castillo, Lewis Barlow, Lula June Smith, Nika Babaie-Amin, Olivia DeMarco, Rafael Ferrone, Rhett Glassman, Sadie Iannelli, Victoria Fenkner, and Zoe Wilson.


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