Our Town’s 22nd Annual Graduation Part 1

By Joanne A Calitri   |   June 18, 2024
The 2024 Cold Spring School grads with CSS Principal Amy M. Alzina, teachers, and Board (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

Cold Spring School Graduation

The Cold Spring School Sixth Grade 2024 Graduation – “Go Dolphins!”– was held on Thursday, June 6, at 8:30 am in the school’s auditorium. Students processioned to the stage and sang, “Time of Your Life” by Green Day, accompanied by Music Specialist Sara DiSalvo, on piano. 

CSS Superintendent and Principal Amy M. Alzina EdDopened the ceremonies with her welcome and thanks to the parents, faculty, and staff. She acknowledged parents who have had their child or children in the school, bringing them on stage to receive a flower. 

CSS Kindergarten Teacher Lisa Ishikawa received an award for her years at the school (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

For the graduation class she said, “I will try to not cry but this class is very special, not only for their outstanding scholastic achievements and STEAM, but also the love they have. The Cold Spring School sixth grade class is a remarkable group of young individuals who have shown exceptional growth and resilience throughout their journey. 

“As their Superintendent/Principal, I have had the privilege of witnessing their curiosity, creativity, and kindness firsthand. Their ability to explore the world with empathy and innovation has been truly inspiring. This year, the students have embraced challenges with a creative mindset, demonstrating remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. They have applied the principles of the Leader in Me 7 Habits in their daily lives, proving themselves to be not just students, but leaders capable of making a positive impact in the world. Their commitment to being proactive, setting goals, and collaborating is commendable. As they move forward to new adventures, I encourage them to continue exploring, innovating, and leading with empathy. The skills they have honed at Cold Spring School will undoubtedly guide them in creating a brighter future for themselves and others. I wish the sixth-grade class all the best in their journey ahead. May they continue to shine, dream, and make the world a better place.”

Student Body President Luke Wooten gave the commencement speech. He recapped their teachers and top experience in each grade and extracurricular studies, and thanked the teachers, staff, Alzina and parents.

6th Grade Awards were presented as follows: 

Alyssa Smelley Citizenship Award: Morgan Haas
Outstanding Athletes: Luke Wooten and Alanna Moreno Pena
Grit Award: Grace Pattison
Drama Award: Fernando Plascencia, Talon McToldridge, and Ax Liebowitz Taigman
Music Award: Alexis Moore and Amelia Kane
Rap Inspiration Award: Levi Hicks
Art Award: Grace Pattison and Maisie Claffey
STEAM Award: Kazimir Graham-Szopa, Brixton Bailey, and Summer Robinson
Math Award: Morgan Haas and Teddy Marino
Writing Award: Beck Bergakker and Shane Kerwood

Alzina presented the Principal’s Award to Alexis Moore and Ax Liebowitz Taigman.

A special award and acknowledgment went to CSS Kindergarten Teacher, Lisa Ishikawa, who is said to be retiring. She gave a brief speech and presented engraved bracelets to each graduate, some of whom started at the school in her class.

Next, Alzina presented each graduate, for the first time in graduation history, with a surprise gift, a Cold Spring School t-shirt, which she asked them to put on. The shirts had “Team Cold Spring” written on the front.

She then introduced the CSS Board: Michael Marino, Trevor Pattison, Gabrielle Haas, Jennifer Miller,and Elke Kane. Together, with the sixth-grade teachers, presented the diplomas, and the traditional reading of each student’s best memory at CSS and what they want to be in 10 years. The 6th grade Instructional Aide is Melissa van Bebber.

Closing remarks were by Alzina, followed by huge applause for the graduates and the annual MJ photo by yours truly. 

The Cold Spring School 2024 6th grade graduates are: Brixton Bailey, Beck Bergakker, Maisie Claffey, Kazimir Graham-Szopa, Morgan Haas, Levi Hicks, Amelia Kane, Shane Kerwood, Ax Liebowitz Taigman, Teddy Marino, Talon McToldridge, Alexis Moore, Alanna Moreno Pena, Grace Pattison, Fernando Plascencia, Summer Robinson, and Luke Wooten.

Laguna Blanca Lower School Graduation 

The Laguna Blanca Lower School 2024 4th grade graduates (photo by Brad Elliott)

The Laguna Blanca Lower School 2024 Graduation – “Go Owls!” – was held on Thursday June 6 at 9 am, outside at the Lower Campus Pavilion. The graduates processed in to “Little Prelude in E minor” by Bach.

Head of the Lower School, Brooke Green provided her welcoming remarks saying, “We are so proud of this group of learners. The 20 students who graduated today embody Laguna Blanca School’s core values of Scholarship, Character, Balance, and Community. Each student contributed to our school community by serving on the student council. They helped launch our new playground and thematic social-emotional learning by sharing tips and participating in skits in our weekly assemblies, and they continued the tradition of honoring community members at our Fourth Grade Citizenship Breakfast. Through their contributions, these students modeled traits such as responsibility, compassion, gratitude, leadership, and courage to our younger students. Congratulations to our fourth grade graduating class. We thank you for the impact each of you made on our school, and we can’t wait to see how you continue to grow and thrive in Middle School and beyond.” Ron Cino, Head of Laguna Blanca School also made a few remarks.

The grads sang their class songs, “Unwritten,” “For Good,” and “Long Live,” directed by Music Instructor Molly Markstrum

Their fourth-grade instructor Susanne Richter read vignettes about each student. 

Green and Richter did the Presentation of Certificates and the school’s owl necklace to the graduates. Parents received a gerbera daisy flower. 

In closing, the grads performed the traditional parachute dance to the song, “Better When I’m Dancing” with Coach Ray Robitaille

The Laguna Blanca Fourth Grade 2024 graduates are: Judah Black, Tucker Delwiche, Rosie Farrell, Grace Green, Jack Helson, Grant Holderness, Hunter Jackson, Matthew Loncki, Mark Lutchyn, Rivi Markstrum, Sawyer McCullough, Catherine Milne, Shane Moore, Quincy Niksto, Jack Petersen, Savannah Powers, Chloe Sharma, Elin Thorsen, Alice Van Quathem Wagner, and Annabelle Zhang.

El Montecito Early School Graduation

The ELMO Early School 2024 grads with Director Christine Hale and teachers (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The El Montecito Early School 2024 Pre-K graduation was held on Friday, June 7, at 10 am in the El Montecito Presbyterian Church. 

Director of the school, Christine Hale, welcomed everyone and shared thanks saying, “It’s been a privilege to be a part of your children’s first learning experience. ELMO is a very special place, and it has been such a joy to watch your children grow. Each day before school the teachers pray for your children. Now they are ready for their next adventure. Let’s join in prayer.” 

The children processioned to the sanctuary with their teachers Karina Van Bogelen and Adrianna Beltran where they sang three hymns including “The Hymn of Grateful Praise.” 

They followed the songs with their recitation of a Bible Verse that corresponded with each letter of the alphabet, starting with “A = As for me and my house we will serve the Lord; B = Beloved, let us love one another, for love comes from God…” 

From there they sat in the front pews and waited for their name to be called to receive their diploma and a long stem white rose from their teachers. For each child, the teacher read a prayer, said the attributes the child has, and the child said what they want to be when they grow up. After all the certificates were given, the graduates gathered in the Sanctuary to sing “The Lord is My Shepard” and posed with their teachers and Hale for photographs. All were invited for lunch at the Padaro Grill.

The ELMO Early School grads gifts (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The graduates received a Children’s Bible, a stuffed Ollie the Owl (the Chapel Mascot), a black and white glossy portrait photograph of themselves, and a developmental portfolio that the teachers compiled into a binder since the student attended the school. 

The El Montecito Early School staff are Assistant Director is Sara Leggieri, Lisa Salgado, Jenny Thompson, Sierra Palladino, Sally Brown, Kit Boone, and Hadley Price, the Music Teacher is Emily Sommermann. Hale recognizes the El Montecito Presbyterian Church Staff – Pastor Dr. Tom Haugen, Assistant Pastor to Families Rev. Lauri Haugen, and their Office Administrator Ashley Olsen.

The El Montecito Early School Pre-K 2024 graduates are: Easten Blair Becker, Jack Eamonn Wolfe Bogart, Lilla Brooke Costello, Ivanna Herrera-Gonzalez, Henry Francis Page Haan, Emme Parker Hade, Ella Starr Jensen, Benjamin Frano Jonck, Charlotte Olivia Maria Jordan, August Landon-Morris, Peyton Rose Muller, Perry Bradford Newman, Merris Grey Parton, Jack Saint Theimer, James Conrad Voog, and Jack Wildman Woods.  


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