The 19th Annual Graduation Issue: Part I

By Joanne A Calitri   |   June 17, 2021

Our community of schools held their 2021 graduation ceremonies through a mix of family-only, in-person bubbles at the school’s open-field areas and via live virtual for all attendees. The total number of local student graduates for this week was 126 students, including 24 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, 13 at Montecito YMCA Preschool, 18 at Cold Spring School, 59 at Montecito Union School, and 12 at El Montecito Early School. The graduations are covered in order of occurrence in two news reports published in the June 10 and June 17 issues.

We at the Montecito Journal wish all the 2021 graduates success going forward and congratulations to our local schools, faculty, and parents.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Graduation

The 2021 OLMC Eighth Grade graduates are: Roxane Ambriz Martinez, Annabelle Aslanian, Ziana Brown, Sadie Coglizer, Lauren Doyle, Elijah Dunn, Tera El-Aaidi, Nicholas Forry, Agustin Gaona, Hudson Macleod, Aidan Naber, Dulce Perez, Joseph Pifer, Sasha Porinsh, Liam Regan, Sophia Regan, Aliyah Stiles, Taylor Trembly, Mario Thiago Valerio, Brennen Van Wingerden, Dallas Van Wingerden, Jaden Van Wingerden, Olivia Van Wingerden, and Eva Worthey

Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) 2021 Eighth Grade Graduation — “Go Lancers!” — was held on May 28 at 5 pm at the school’s outdoor recreation field, for the grads and their families only, in their respective bubbles, socially distanced and masked, with no live stream or recording. The program included the tradition of a Graduation Mass, awards ceremony, and conferring of diplomas. Presiding were Pastor Fr. Lawrence Seyer, Principal Tracie Simolon, and their eighth-grade teacher Denise Jackson. On Monday of graduation week, the school hosted a class retreat followed by a family mass for graduates and their parents at East Beach. In lieu of their annual grad BBQ, the group enjoyed a family movie night on the school field with the film Karate Kid

Simolon welcomed the graduates and parents, and Seyer led the Mass accompanied by student readers. The awards ceremony followed, with Simolon presenting the award to Agustin Gaona because Agustin had “been an inspiration to both his fellow Mount Carmel students and to the Mount Carmel staff.” In addition, Sophia Regan earned The Faculty Award, one which “honors a student who best identifies the Catholic/Christian ideals of dependability, loyalty, readiness to serve and positive expression.”

Simolon and Jackson presented the diplomas to the students by calling each student’s name, having the student pick up their diploma from the gift table, and take a photograph. The ceremony concluded with a blessing from Seyer and closing remarks by Simolon, who finished her time with:

“Before we part, I want to share with you my favorite quote from St. Catherine of Siena: ‘If you are who you are meant to be, you will set the whole world on fire.’ At Mount Carmel School, we have given you a foundation and ignited a spark in each of you, academically, socially, and spiritually. As you move on to high school and beyond, I encourage you to kindle that spark into a flame, being a light to those you meet, so that as you grow you will set the world on fire with your achievements and example.

“Congratulations Class of 2021!”

YMCA Preschool 2021 Graduation

The YMCA Preschool 2021 graduates are: Lucas Sanchez Acero, Luke Azoury, Bentley Hill-Baez, Mikes Burkart, Ascher Chenowith, Lorien Fletcher, James Harris, Marlo Jenkins, Ryland Moulin, Tatiana Olowski, Weston Ruiz, Nash Serpa, and London Whitworth

The Montecito Family YMCA Preschool 2021 Graduation was held outside at the YMCA on June 1 at 4:30 pm. Each student graduating was allowed four masked, socially distanced, vaccinated guests, with no live stream or recording. The ceremony was brief and held the traditions of the students making their own graduation caps, singing songs, reciting nursery rhymes, presenting gifts to their parents, taking a family photograph, and receiving their diplomas.

Montecito Y Preschool Director Annie Fischer celebrated her 30th year with the school, with her speech at the graduation, “It was a year of fun and learning in Room 3 at the Montecito Family YMCA Preschool! Thirteen happy pre-kindergarteners celebrated the joyful experience of childhood. Each child was recognized for their own unique spirit in our play-based, intentional, and engaging program. The children have developed a love for learning in all domains, giving them the building blocks for advanced learning.”

Cold Spring School Graduation

The 2021 CSS graduates are: Lulu Aurell, Maria Butler, Poppy Christensen, Enzo Colasse, Nanami Fuller, Macey Gradias, Leila Hawkes, Angelina Keyser, Ryder McNerney, Shyla Narachi, Fianna Peterson, Makayla Sears, Lily Smith, Summer Smith, Cameron Sparks, Lucia Vigna, Eleanor Walmsley, and Noah Yadav

The Cold Spring School (CSS) Sixth Grade 2021 Graduation — “Go Dolphins!” — was held outside on June 3 at 8:30 am at the school’s upper field for the graduates and their parents social distanced and masked, with no live stream or recording. Presenting were CSS Superintendent and Principal Amy Alzina PhD, their 6th grade teacher Linda Edwards, and Instructional Aide Jill Wolf

Alzina welcomed the graduates and their guests. The CCS 6th Grade Promotion special awards followed, presented by the faculty with a brief sharing about the award the student recipients: 

Alyssa Smelley Citizenship: Eleanor Walmsley; Principal’s Award: Shyla Narachi and Enzo Colasse; Scholar Athlete: Cameron Sparks and Enzo Colasse; Leadership: Summer Smith; Kindness: Leila Hawkes; Math: Poppy Christensen and Macey Gradias; Drama: Lulu Aurell, Fianna Peterson, Shyla Narachi, and Ryder McNerney; Art: Angelina Keyser and Noah Yadav; Writing: Lily Smith; Music: Lucia Vigna and Maria Butler; STEAM: Makayla Sears, Nanami Fuller, and Eleanor Walmsley.

Alzina, Edwards, and Wolf presented the diplomas to the graduates, and Alzina gave the closing remarks: “The 2020-2021 Cold Spring School sixth-grade class is known for its perseverance and courage. They have persevered through a year of uncertainty. They began the year in remote learning and then a month later shifted to in-person learning. They entered the doors to their classroom as courageous leaders. They pushed through every uncomfortable situation and never backed down even when things got really hard. These qualities allowed them the opportunity to celebrate their sixth-grade play accomplishment at the end of the school year.

“Together, they showed us all that we can accomplish great things. Perseverance, courage, and unconditional love for one another define this Cold Spring School class of 2021. They have overcome each challenge, maintained a positive attitude, and achieved amazing academic results. 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!”

Montecito Union School Graduation

The 2021 MUS graduates are: Juan Arias, Remy Steele Becker, George Nichols Blevins, Miles Lloyd Bush, Oliver Savage Clawson, Hayley Courson, Hannah Grace Craigie, Calleigh Crosby, Ava Jane Damery, Maddox Madrid Denver, Henry Alexander Duran, Tanner Garrett Ebbin, Margaret Jane Frost Eglin, Sebastian Fabio, Lucas Forry, Marshall Graham, Cooper Eric Green, Jayden M. Grosso, Cason Asher Hammond, Kayleb Hanacek, Maddyn Hanacek, Elizabeth Levy Hazelton, Hannah Maj Henriques, Kaya Lily Hernandez, William Jackson Hyatt, Ian Jacobs, Camilla Sabine Joffrey, Luke Karman, Charlie Le Renard, Lilly Mae Long, Paylin Baker Marcillac, Violet Winter Kate Marr, Ciel Rae McGonigal, Beckett McManigal, Hawk Modisette, Emily Jane Oakley, Fisher Denny Pennestri, Stella Elizabeth Peus, Eva Manderson Rogers, Abby Rose Roth, Paloma Zofia Rudnicki, Blake Marie Saunders, Brent Alexander Sharpton, August Singer, Reilly Annika Spieker, Ruby Frances Streatfeild, Alexander Jack Strogoff, Elina Grace Stump, Kivah Sverdrup, Baker Eli Thayer, Aiden Marley Thomas, Izaiah O. Vega, Uma Vulliez, Annabelle Grace Waldinger, Tosh Whitworth, Luke Benjamin Wilson, Kana Estelle Wolf, Isabelle Wootton and Beck Julien Young

The Montecito Union School (MUS) Sixth Grade 2021 Graduation — “Go Mustangs!” — was held on June 4 at 9:45 am outside socially distanced and limited to immediate family only at the school’s grassy field area, and live stream on Zoom for all other attendees as permitted by MUS.

The ceremony started with the traditional processional of the graduates to the front and standing socially distanced and masked to the song, “Simple Gifts,” accompanied by Pam Herzog, music specialist. The welcome and Pledge of Allegiance were led by students Ava Jane Damery and Cooper Green, with attendees standing to sing “America the Beautiful.” The graduates then joined their families seated, and graduate Violet Marr gave the first Student Address recapping their school experiences. Music teacher Ron Zecher led the MUS Strings Ensemble in the songs, “Pax,” played by students Maddy Denver, Marshall Graham, and Charlie Le Renard. The second Student Address was given by Eva Rogers and Annabelle Waldinger, followed by the traditional Graduation Sentiments from various members of the graduating class.

Superintendent Anthony Ranii gave the Commencement Message: “Congratulations to all of our MUS sixth-grade graduates! Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge,’ and this year certainly revealed the ‘measure of the MUS character.’ In a year of challenge, our sixth-grade graduates chose kindness. As plans were constantly being changed, they all showed respect. And in a year that required them to be remarkably self-directed, they all demonstrated integrity.”

The students sang the “MUS Graduation Song” by Kenny and Eva Loggins. Students were called up by name and walked up to the podium to pick up their diploma from a table and processed to their place standing in the front. Presiding were Ranii, Principal Nick Bruski, MUS Board Members Susannah Osley and Peter van Duinwyk, and their sixth-grade teachers Katie Nimitarnun, Danielle Weill, Kim Berman, and Jeff Linder

After all diplomas were received, the Student Poem by Ruby Streatfeild was recited by her as follows:

“You Have Graduated”
You have arrived
You have arrived to a place that will bring you
And Joy
You have begun
You have begun a life of
And courage
You have experienced
You have experienced a
And Zoom
You have become
You have become full of
And integrity
You have loved
You have loved
Staff members
And MUS 
You have graduated!”

The ceremony concluded with the recessional song, “Simple Gifts” as the graduates processed off the field.

El Montecito Early School Graduation

El Montecito Early School 2021 Pre-K graduates are: Thomas Marshall Costello, Johnnie Lee Gore, George William Grover, Lena Rebecca Holt, Ansel David Kramp, Bear Arthur Kramp, London Kinsey Lytel, Pierce Maxius Mahy, Colbie Jane McManigal, Brecken Jack Norman, Vivienne Rose Rottman, and Nolan Brandow Toth

The El Montecito Early School 2021 graduation was held on June 4 at 10 am in the El Montecito Church courtyard. Families by approval of the school to attend, sat masked in individual family bubbles, and all other attendees watched the ceremony via a YouTube live stream by Gavin Roy Presents. As guests gathered, Brandon Kinalele played electric jazz guitar.

Pastor Rev. Tom Haugen opened with a welcome and prayer. School Director Suzy Dobreski followed with “so many life lessons were learned this year by our amazing Early School preschoolers, and we couldn’t be more proud of them and their wonderful, supportive families. As we shepherded our little school through this pandemic, our kids were flexible, kind, caring, while sharing memories, hugs, laughs, and even a tear or two. We know that the God we are privileged to serve continues to watch over and protect us, and our faith grows because of it. We are proud to teach the little ones that they are truly never alone. We do not say good-bye, but till we meet again. We know we are family, strong and resilient and we are ELMO. Thank you for sharing your lives with us and these children are ready for kindergarten and beyond!” As part of the graduation ceremony, two four-year-olds were acknowledged in Gunnar Montgomery McCormick and Lillian Leimomi Williams

Dobreski announced the start of the graduate processional into the courtyard, accompanied by Kinalele on guitar. The pre-K classroom children wore the traditional white caps and church clothes (no gown). Dobreski presented the diplomas and their teachers read a brief description about each graduate’s first name relative to the same name as described by the Bible. Once all received their diplomas, the graduates turned their tassels over together, sang a song and recited a prayer. Dobreski closed the ceremony also with a prayer, followed by photo ops and a gathering at the Padaro Grill.

Staff and faculty at the ceremony were Assistant Director Meika Mosby-McCrindle, Lead Pre-K Teacher Melanie Cuxil with fellow teachers Miss Melissa, Miss Bayli, Miss Lisa, Miss Jenna, and assistant teachers Miss Lyndsi and Miss Beth. The graduates received a children’s Bible, a personal artboard of the student, and a developmental portfolio that the teachers compiled into a binder since the student started at the school.


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