In a line stretching as far as the eye could see, College of the Canyons students donning their customary blue and gold caps and gowns filed into the honor grove Friday to receive their degrees during the school’s annual graduation ceremony.
The ceremonial procession was perhaps the longest it’s ever been as this year’s graduating class took the record for largest in school history, COC officials said, mentioning the 2019 class is 10 percent larger than last year’s class, which was the previous record-holder for most graduating students.
Families, friends and community members stood by in the crowd offering support and words of encouragement before Chancellor Dianne Van Hook took the stage.
“Like the superheroes you see in your minds and relate to in your hearts, you’ve risen and taken flight. And today, your presence here is a clear demonstration of your super abilities. What this class has accomplished is nothing short of amazing,” Van Hook said as she read off some statistics about this year’s cohort of graduates.
“Accomplishments like this do not happen by accident. They are inspired by qualities and behaviors that superheroes are known for, and the result of decision, determination and dedication,” Van Hook added. “At the same time, each of you is different. You came here from different times in your lives (and) from unique and varied backgrounds.”
Valedictorian Natalia Radcliffe’s speech kept the superhero theme going.
“Whatever your background, whatever your experience, we all have worked hard to get where we are today,” Radcliffe said. “Through our dedication and hard work, we have inspired others to follow in our footsteps to pursue higher education and help the community around us… As we begin this new chapter of our new lives, let us remember our superhero selves. Let us remember that no mountain is too high to climb (and) no dream too high to reach.”
After Radcliffe spoke, the 2,467 graduates were invited up to receive their degrees and take a picture with Board President Michael Berger, Van Hook and other school leaders.
Once all of the students had taken the stage, a group of nursing graduates led their fellow class of 2019 members out of the Honor Grove dancing to N-Sync’s song, “Bye Bye Bye.”