This year, in keeping with Covid-19s restrictions, Palisades High School had to hold its graduation ceremony twice, once at 10 a.m. and once at 5 p.m. But this was a huge improvement on last year, when the graduation ceremony had to be cancelled.
For this June 10 ceremony on the football field, the more than 700 students selected their preferred time, and then each were allowed two guests.
Circling the News spoke to two young adults who were watching from behind the stadium fence. “My baby sister is graduating,” the woman said. Her brother said that since only two were allowed, their parents were inside. Grandparents had to watch the live stream as did those who may have come from divorced families.
The woman talked to CTN about her sister. “We have a lot of hope that she is going to do really well.” The graduate was planning to attend community college and wants to eventually become a veterinarian.
Another local parent told CTN, “It was great to be there in person, albeit with a mask and socially distanced. It was sad that this was the ONLY moment from our son’s senior year we could be with him on campus,” the man said. “It was great to see him socializing and saying goodbye to friends after the ceremony, which only underscored how much he missed this year attending school remotely.”
The National anthem was sung beautifully by soloists Erika Geddgaudas, Yman Kamgaing-Wappi and Mia Ruhman.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Student Body President Izzy Gill, a soccer player and co-president of the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force chapter.
Other student speakers included Senior Class President Michael Brent IV, who spoke about the last year saying, “the pressure has only made us stronger. We’re still finding out who we are as individuals.” He quoted JF Kennedy, “For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future – the opportunities presented in front of us.”
Class Salutatorian Isaac Ethan Hamid, who spoke at 10 a.m., thanked God, his family, teachers and the role models who gave him this opportunity. Hamid, a basketball player, said that simple things he used to take for granted at the school, “now command my attention.”
For most of his high school career he said he was always focused on the future, the next test and assignment and the college he would attend. After a year of at-home classes, he realized that “Always looking for what was next, didn’t allow me to take in the blessing of the present.”
“My advice is to stay in the moment,” he said. “Stand up for who you are. Don’t hide who you are.”
Class Valedictorian Walker Uhls, who spoke at 5 p.m. said, “If we want to see a future brighter than the present we’ve grown up in, we all have a responsibility to address the unprecedented crisis of environmental, racial and economic injustice, and the wounded foundations of democracy.
About this last year, he acknowledged the many hardships and then congratulated his class, parents and teachers with “Well done!”
Student speaker Itzel Hernandez at the 10 a.m. acknowledged, “I know the importance of extended families and chosen families—and how they’ve helped us.” She recognized, a classmate and captain of the school’s soccer team, Shane Thomas, who died unexpectedly in August 2020.
Samantha Guzman spoke at the 5 p.m. ceremony.
Principal Pam Magee’s speech had some memorable salutes to the senior class and their activism for social justice, human rights and fighting climate change.
The guest speaker at 10 a.m. was LAUSD School Board Vice President Nick Melvoin, who spoke about the last year’s challenges and adversities.
He urged the seniors to reflect on this last year as a time of learning and growing. Although the pandemic was worldwide and all were affected, in each person’s own lives, they too will face obstacles — and how someone faces them can help determine character and strengthen a person’s resilience.
Melvoin concluded, “Here’s to a better and brighter, but to also a wonderfully uncomfortable future for all of you and all of us.”
To view the 10 a.m. ceremony visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFzFYifmgfo