Seniors’ last celebration before graduation

By Sandra Moore

Staff Writer

Photos by Stephanie Kim

“Today, we say goodbye to each other, to our teachers and administration, and to our school,” senior Nina Acebo said in her speech “The Last Farewell” at this year’s Baccalaureate on Sunday, June 6. The ceremony, which took place in the auditorium, featured performances and speeches for a crowd of seniors and their families.

Seniors Nina Acebo, Samuel Anuakpado, and Kira Gabriel were selected by the Baccalaureate Committee to each give a speech.  Anuakpado and Gabriel read their speeches “When This is All Over” and “Blue Glasses”. Anuakpado’s speech paid homage to the years he spent at South Pasadena High School, providing a pithy yet entertaining meditation on the future responsibilities that the seniors will face.


The ceremony also featured performances by seniors Samantha Lee and Jennifer Wu, Andrew Cuyegkeng and Sarah Stukan, and Raj Jain and Isabella Lujano, all of whom did renditions of popular songs. Lee and Wu sang a duet of One Republic’s “Life in Color”, while Jain and Lujano performed a mashup of Maroon Fire’s “Sunday Morning” and Bruno Mars’s “Treasure”. Cuyegkeng played the piano a piece called “The Radio in My Head”, which consisted of multiple songs, while Stukan danced ballet.


The ceremony itself concluded with a speech by keynote speaker Porochista Khakpour, author of acclaimed books The Last Illusion and Sons and Other Flammable Objects and SPHS alumnus of 1996. Her speech blended advice and anecdotes as she reflected upon her experience as a writer, college student, and now college professor.

“Through angers, losses, ambitions, ignorance, ennui, what you are picks its way,” Khakpour said, quoting her senior quote from Walt Whitman. She then added, “So pick yourself wisely.”

The event ended as seniors and their families gathered on the Tiger Patio and Senior Lawn for photos, as well as complimentary cookies and lemonade.