SPHS Class of 2023 celebrates at graduation ceremony

Story by Ethan Kwak 
Staff Writer 

Photos by Samantha Shiroishi, Emiko (Emi) Essmiller, and Rachel (Shin-Hye) Choi
Staff Photographers

342 SPHS seniors received their diplomas on Thursday, June 1, during the Graduation Ceremony, themed after “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts, on Roosevelt field. The stands were packed as seniors clothed in black and white trickled from the front of the track. The SPHS band and drumline played music as the seniors took to their seats in front of the podium centered in the field. 

The ceremony opened with a welcome from Senior Class President Kyra Nielsen, followed by the national anthem sung by seniors Lia Borja and Han Lim. Next, seniors Samuel Grotenstein and Brynn Buckley presented speeches addressing the graduating class.

Grotenstein’s speech, titled “New Beginnings,” touched on the challenges that seniors might face as they enter the adult world. Buckley’s speech, “Mixed Emotions,” touched on the spectrum of changes and challenges that come with life beyond high school.

“I was hoping to convey the idea that we have an obligation to take agency in our own lives and live meaningfully,” Grotenstein said. “I was also trying to convey that fur coats are cool and you should never let others cramp your style.”

Senior Class Secretary Michael Mayemura introduced the special guests, including the Superintendent, Dr. Geoff Yantz, the Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, Christiane Gervais, and the Board of Education President, Dr. Patricia Martinez-Miller.

Senior Class Treasurer Rachel Liao presented the class gift, the restoration of the Class of 1950’s painted curtain originally hung in the Anderson Auditorium. In the past, the curtain has been used to celebrate Homecoming, but due to its fragility, it has not been used in recent years. Now, this symbol of school spirit can be seen at future Homecomings.

SPHS Principal John Eldred presented the Class of 2023, and Martinez-Miller called each senior to the stage for their diplomas. After each senior received a handshake from Yantz, they returned to their seats in front of the podium.

Commissioner of Academics Charlie Betts presented the award of valedictorian to Jacqueline Mancera and the award of salutatorian to Talia Yoo. Senior Class Vice President Jayden Tran then gave a final farewell.

Finally, the Class of 2023 sang their last alma mater. With “Life is a Highway” blasting from the stage, the graduates tossed their caps in the air, marking the end of their high school journeys. 
The ceremony was also live streamed on the ASB Youtube channel.

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