Our Town’s 21st Annual Graduation Issue 3 of 3 

By Joanne A Calitri   |   June 20, 2023

This graduation issue has, in order of occurrence: the YMCA Preschool, Cold Spring School, Laguna Blanca Lower School, Montecito Union School, the El Montecito Early School, and Crane Country Day School. The Montecito Journal wishes much success and congratulations to our graduates, school faculty, staff, and parents!

YMCA Preschool 2023 Graduation

The YMCA 2023 Preschool graduates with their teacher and school director Ms. Annie Fischer (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The YMCA Preschool 2023 Graduationwas held on Tuesday, June 6 at 4:30 pm, inside at the Y’s recreation room due to the rain. The grads processed in to the “Pomp and Circumstance March” by Sir Edward Elgar, with their teacher and Preschool Director Ms. Annie Fischer who is retiring this year, with her last graduating class.

After taking their seats, Fischer welcomed the parents and families: “You know I love this, it is my 32nd year. Let’s start our program. The students have been practicing nursery rhymes for you for today.” She called on the students, who performed nine traditional rhymes and four songs, including, “All I Really Need” by Raffi and the graduating class’s favorite song – “When the Rain Comes Down” by Fink and Marxer. 

The finale was the annual tradition of performing the “YMCA” song by The Village People. Fischer encouraged the parents to join, saying, “…come on parents, stand up so your child can see you, children let’s show them how it’s done, and I want to see the room rocking!”

Parents and families sat with their graduating child on stage for the presentation of the diplomas, while Fischer read a vignette about each student’s attributes. Parents received a booklet written by the students to the question, “Where do babies come from?” Next up, and a bit teary-eyed, Fischer presented gifts and thanks to Executive Director Michael Yamasaki, the room parents, former teachers including Ms. Ruthie Ambriz, Janet Langley, YMCA President & CEO Margo Byrne, office admin, and her sound tech.

Yamasaki spoke on Fischer’s legacy with the Preschool, her decades of dedicated work, all the children whose lives she has cared for and influenced in a positive way, adding, “… and although she is retiring, the Preschool will always be called Ms. Annie’s.”

He introduced Board Member Sally Jo Murren, who spoke for everyone in the room, when she said, “What we love about Ms. Annie is – each moment you spend with her nourishes your soul, she is kind and has kindness never ending, her patience as well. She looks people of all ages in the eye and speaks from her heart – a rare thing these days, and she always has time for you. Annie, your work continues on, marked by all the alumni of your classes who have sent their children to your classes to look after them. Thank you for the time you have spent with us; we are most grateful.” Adding to her praises were the room moms. The graduation concluded with a dessert reception.

The 2023 YMCA Preschool grads are: 

Reese Bruski, Amelie De Lowe, Bradley Del Shad, Margot Feist, Gracen Francis, Santiago Gutierrez, Phoenix Hawkins, Leo Hund, Kadence Kinney, Janeya Noel, Joseph Noel, Mar Valencia, and August “Auggie” Ylvisaker.

Cold Spring School 2023 Graduation

The Cold Spring School 2023 grads with Superintendent and Principal Amy Alzina and their teachers (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The Cold Spring School (CSS) Sixth Grade 2023 Graduation – “Go Dolphins!”– was held on Thursday, June 8 at 8:30 am in the school’s auditorium. Students processed to the stage and sang “It’s Our Time” by Teresa Jennings, accompanied by Music Specialist Sara DiSalvo, on piano. 

CSS Superintendent and Principal Amy Alzina Ed.D.,opened the ceremonies with her commencement address: “When faced with any difficulties or changes needed, these students have learned to just go with it, something you can’t learn in school. I am so proud of you for rising to the occasion. Thank you for finishing the strongest yet of all my graduating classes. I want to express my deepest admiration and gratitude to our sixth-grade students for being part of the Cold Spring School family. They have left an indelible mark on our community, and we are incredibly proud of all they have achieved. As they embark on this new chapter, they carry with them the knowledge that they have the power to shape a better world — one guided by their compassion, resilience, and exceptional talents. Congratulations, class of 2023! The world awaits your brilliance, and I have no doubt that you will continue to make us proud. Remember, you are the authors of your own destiny, and I am excited to witness the incredible journeys you will undertake.”

Student Body President Elise Orwig shared class memories and said, “Our growth is like a caterpillar, and hope you can recognize this in each of you. Graduation is like a leap of faith. Thank you to all our teachers. Congrats to the CSS Class of 2023!”

6th Grade Awards: Alyssa Smelley Citizenship: Andrew O’Neill and Maya D’Amour; Principal’s Award: Scarlett Schiller and Ava Gonzales; Outstanding Athletes: Eli Sears, Cole Hawkes, Violette Bailey, Luna Morancey, and Marco Plascencia; Enthusiasm & Passion: William Gibson and Henry Metcalfe; Performing Arts: Gwyneth Thomas, Elsie Orwig and Leonardo Vigna; Dance & Choreography: Madeleine Peterson; Art: Maya D’Amour and Fiona Lewis; STEAM: Finn Gradias, Matias Calderon, Henry Zylstra, and Theodore Friedman; Citizenship: Alan Keyser and Micco Jacobsen; Personal Best: Ava Gonzales, Lars Ohlgren, and Scarlett Schiller; Inspiration & Loyalty: Mason Daughters and Andrew O’Neill; Creative Spirit: Leo Shuman.

Diplomas were presented by Alzina, sixth-grade teachers Linda Edwards and Ryan Francisco, and CSS Board Members, with the traditional reading of each students’ “In 10 Years” statement.

The 2023 CSS graduates are: 

Violette Bailey, Matias Calderon, Maya D’Amour, Mason Daughters, Theodore Friedman, William Gibson, Ava Gonzales, Finn Gradias, Cole Hawkes, Micco Jacobsen, Alan Keyser, Fiona Lewis, Henry Metcalfe, Luna Morancey, Andrew O’Neill, Lars Ohlgren, Elsie Orwig, Madeleine Peterson, Marco Plascencia, Scarlett Schiller, Eli Sears, Leo Shuman, Gwyneth Thomas, Leonardo Vigna, and Henry Zylstra.

Laguna Blanca Lower School 2023 Graduation

The Laguna Blanca Lower School 2023 grads (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The Laguna Blanca Lower School 2023 Graduation – “Go Owls!” – was held on Thursday, June 8 at 9 am, outside at the Lower Campus Pavilion. 

The Welcome by the Interim Head of the Lower School Anna Alldredge, noted, “I am so proud of Laguna’s phenomenal graduating fourth-grade class. This group of Owls is compassionate, driven, brilliant, and collaborative. As a team, they have shined on stage, supported each other on the athletic field, and grown as scholars across all subjects. They have been exceptional Lower School leaders, with every single fourth grader serving on our LS Student Council this year. This amazing fourth-grade class is ready to spread their wings and fly up to fifth grade at Laguna’s beautiful Hope Ranch campus.” Head of Middle School Shane Lopes and Head of Laguna Blanca School Ron Cino also provided remarks.

The grads sang their class song, “Happy,” followed by the entire school singing “In Living Fully.” 

Their fourth-grade instructor Susanne Richter, read vignettes about each student, followed by the presentation of certificates. Assisting her were incoming Head of Lower School Brooke Green, Alldredge, and Fourth Grade Instructional Assistant Emily Burns. The grads received their certificate of promotion with the school’s owl necklace, a gerbera daisy flower, and gift bag to present to their parents. In closing, the grads performed the traditional parachute dance to the song, “Better When I’m Dancing.”

The Laguna Blanca Fourth Grade 2023 graduates are: 

Sophia Berar, Alexander Buckwalter, Sebastian Cislo, Simone Donnelly, Kora Elings, Kellar Grisham-Burkepile, Annabelle Henderson, Kaila Lieb, Rio Lopes, Chloé McGinnes, David Moeller, Jacob Muralles, Isabella Ortiz, David Rivera, Edie Terbeek,and Natana Vapnek.

Montecito Union School 2023 Graduation

The MUS 2023 grads 1 of 3 (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The Montecito Union School (MUS) Sixth Grade 2023 Graduation – “Go Mustangs!”– was held on Friday, June 9 at 8:30 am in the school courtyard. The ceremony started with the grads’ processional to the song, “Simple Gifts.” 

The welcome and Pledge of Allegiance were led by students Koa Zertuche and Cash Lee; and all attendees sang “America the Beautiful.” Student addresses by Anada Johar, Natalie Klan, and May Rapp, shared that the MUS values of kindness, respect, and integrity will continue with them, comparing themselves to their school’s mustang – herd animals who have each other’s backs, individuals, and team players to accomplish greatness and be changemakers. The grads sang “When I Grow Up” and “A Million Dreams,” led by Pam Herzog. The Strings Ensemble of Sole Hopkins, Gabrielle Osley and Madeleine Osley, led by Ron Zecher on piano, performed “Pax.”

The Commencement Message was given by MUS Board President Susannah Osley, who asked, “What is a school?” and replied, “School is not just a building, it is the outings you had. It is a group of people. It is like a boat and you are the water carrying it.” Superintendent Anthony Ranii andPrincipal Nick Bruski, added, “We’re extremely proud of this fine group of students. They have persevered through fires, a debris flow, multiple evacuations, and Covid-19. They made lasting contributions to the local Montecito community. We are confident they have grown into inspired thinkers who will positively impact the world.”

Ranii, Bruski, and Osley presented the diplomas, with congrats from their teachers Lindsay Alker, Kim Berman, and Danielle Weill. The ceremony concluded with the students singing the “MUS Graduation Song” by Kenny and Eva Loggins

The 2023 MUS graduates are: 

Arveen Ryan Babaie-Amin, Mia Alessandra Bianchi, Ashley Black, Kate Black, Arianna Lauren Boyce, Maxwell S. Bunnin, Celeste Colling, Drew Courson, Cameron Crail, Amelia Louise Dracht, Julien Eté, Grace Natalie Fuller, Manuel Anthony Gorgita IV, Charlie Gray, Nikita Gruzdev, Savina Hamm, Sole Hopkins, Riley Houghton Hyatt, Miles Jacobs, Ananda Malina Johar, Ava Love Jordan, Alena Kielborn, Drake Kielborn, Natalie Klan, Cash Lee, Emmie Irena Lensander, Chloe Georgina Merzbach Leonard, Owen Wyatt Merzbach Leonard, Raffaella Valenteen Lionello, Celin Llanos, Rigby James Marr, Liliana McDermott, Gigi Renee McManigal, Mia Moelleken Lezama, Ryland Murphy, Gabrielle Sage Osley, Madeleine Grace Osley, James Kade Rameson, May Rapp, Delia Rodriguez, Sunny Saal, Truett James Sheehy, Henry Lee Shiffman, Cana Wilson Spieker, Brandon Stein, Jada Taylor, Becker Nicholas Tyler, Rose van Rest, Reese Walters, Blaise Edward Wiegand, Charlotte Wootton, Ella Ylvisaker, Koa Joaquin Zertuche,and Enzo.

El Montecito Early School 2023 Graduation

The Crane Country Day School 2023 grads with Headmaster Joel Weiss (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The El Montecito Early School 2023 graduation was held on Friday, June 9 at 10 am in the El Montecito Presbyterian Church. The children processed to the sanctuary with their teachers Karina Van Bogelen and Nancy King, where they posed for a photo op for the MJ and their families. Then, led by their teacher saying each letter of the alphabet, the grads recited from memory excerpts from the Bible, “A = As for me and my house we will serve the Lord; B = Beloved, let us love one another, for love comes from God…”

School Director Christine Hale announced each graduate’s name, and their teachers read a vignette about them. The grads received a long stem yellow rose and certificate. They closed the ceremony with the “Hymn of Grateful Praise.” 

The graduates received a Children’s Bible, a stuffed animal, and a developmental portfolio that the teachers compiled into a binder since the student attended the school. 

The El Montecito Early School Pre-K 2023 graduates are: 

Vivienne Burtness, Mabel Jane Carlson, Remley Garber, Sierra Garber, Will Hade, Evan Hendel, Nico Lopez-Hollis, Marielle Huff, Bridgette McBride, Daniela McNamara, Jameson Moore, Dane Petersen, Aubrey Pifer,and Benjamin Zylstra.

Crane Country Day School 2023 Graduation

The Crane Country Day School 2023 grads with Headmaster Joel Weiss (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The Crane Country Day School 2023 Eighth Grade Graduation – “Go Coyotes!” – was held on Friday, June 9 at 10:30 am, outside at the school, with a dessert reception as guests entered. Families sat at their assigned tables and seats on the track lawn.

It began with the graduating class processional onto the steps behind Headmaster Joel Weiss at the podium. After Weiss welcomed them and everyone to the ceremony, the grads sat with their family. 

Weiss’s remarks began with a Tribal Land Acknowledgement: “The campus sits on Chumash land and its history is studied at the school. The Class of 2023 is a group of impressive and talented students, who are becoming responsible and empathetic young adults. Graduation is a singular occasion that marks their passage from Crane Country Day School into high school and the broader community, and I know that we are releasing capable, smart, and determined individuals into the world. I couldn’t be prouder, and I look forward to seeing all that they will accomplish in the months and years to come.” Weiss also thanked the families for their support.

He then presented the Headmaster’s Prize: Reagan Mack; Amiability Award: Loma Murdy; Tower Achievement Award: Luc d’Offay; Rose Bowl Award: Marlow Rogers; and the Talia S. Klein Award: Owen Eiler and Jamie Levinson.

Each grad was called up to the podium where vignettes about them were read by their teachers Peggy Smith, Alexis Fischer, Kate Tannous, Elizabeth Teare, Louis Caron, Tia Hannah, Amelia DeFrancis, Andrea Elias, and Alexa Hughes. Weiss presented the diplomas. The teachers presented the Crane School pin to the grads, while Music Teacher Konrad Kono played “The Crane Song” by Norman Gimbel. Weiss officially presented the class as graduated, and a reception followed.

The Crane Country Day School 2023 graduates are:

Sebastian Ayala, Avery Barrell, Aydin Barry, Chloe Bellamy, Zoe Campbell, Jordan Caratachea, Luc d’Offay, Dani De Lucia, Lucien Dempsey, Ronan Dowling, Maisie Duncan, Henry Duran, Owen Eiler, Kaden Greene, Leila Hawkes, Kaya Hernandez, Java Holloway, Noe Iventura Castro, Piper Kulkin, Jamie Levinson, Reagan Mack, Peter Markham, Fiona McCoy, Teke Meisel, Jackson Muller, Loma Murdy, Austin Muzzy, Zackary Pesapane, Marlow Rogers, Paolo Shamshiri,and Mia Talerico.


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