Golden Valley celebrates graduates with virtual, drive-thru graduation

Golden Valley High School graduating senior Starlynn Hartnek walks at a drive-thru graduation ceremony hosted at Central Park Monday morning. June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal
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As seniors donned newly required masks along with their caps and gowns, Golden Valley High School’s class of 2020 still found a way to make graduation special with changes to tradition. 

On Monday, 505 seniors walked across the stage at Central Park while cars packed with family members and decorated with signs, streamers and balloons drove past, cheering from a safe distance. 

This drive-thru graduation allowed seniors to celebrate the milestone while still following Public Health’s guidelines amid the current pandemic. 

Later in the evening, a virtual graduation video was released via livestream to be watched by graduates at home, making for a daylong celebration for seniors, who are by now no stranger to virtual events.

Golden Valley High School graduating senior Gerard Gandionco takes a photo with his family in front of a special balloon arrangement made by Rosalie Sanchez’s Santa Clarita-based Happy Balloons after walking at a drive-thru graduation ceremony at Central Park on Monday, June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

After a procession of videos depicting the class of 2020, both pre- and post-pandemic, graduates were able to include “Senior Tributes,” showing a photo of themselves and thanking loved ones for their support along their journeys.

The class of 2020 then heard from their peers, including Katelyne Aguilar, who spoke in Spanish, and Abigail Royster, who shared a story of the day she broke her foot dancing in the school lunch line.

“I called my dad in hysterics, and he told me something I’ll never forget,” she said. “‘Some people learn by seeing, and some people learn by doing.’ With the time I’ve had to reflect on my experience at GV, I realized I’ve stuck with that mindset since that day in fourth grade. … I think the same can be said of the class of 2020. In these uncertain times, we faced our reality with strength, resilience and perseverance. … We face adversity now, but we also understand that learning extends far outside of the classroom or the computer screen. The skills that have been instilled in us for the past four years will stay relevant in our lives far after our doors open back up and our masks are taken off.” 

Golden Valley High School seniors walk in a drive-thru graduation ceremony Monday morning. June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Fellow graduate Chayliel Quintanilla Flores echoed Roster’s sentiment, adding, “The amount of strength, determination and resilience that you possess as a class is something that is so rare, yet so incredible. If anything, these past few months have served as a clear indication of the positive characteristics and potential that is invested in every single one of you.”

Seniors then heard from Golden Valley Principal Sal Frias one final time as he first held a moment of silence for Golden Valley’s assistant football coach and world history teacher, Eric Harris, who died in March. Frias then offered his last bits of advice for the 14th graduating class.

“During your senior year, we have power-stopping winds, fires that impacted many lost and damaged homes, we have the local tragic moments in November, we’d lost a great Grizzly and now we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” Frias said. “Your resiliency is nothing like I have ever seen. No other graduating class has ever experienced what you have this senior year. Keep your resiliency. Whenever and however we continue your next chapters, please go out and keep your core values and continue to apply that fearless work ethic that many believe is changing in today’s youth.” 

Golden Valley High School seniors walk in a drive-thru graduation ceremony Monday morning. June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Golden Valley High School graduating senior Madison Hartman walks at a drive-thru graduation ceremony hosted at Central Park Monday morning. June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Golden Valley High School seniors walk in a drive-thru graduation ceremony Monday morning. June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Golden Valley High School seniors walk in a drive-thru graduation ceremony Monday morning. June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Golden Valley High School graduating senior Leslie Kennedy walks at a drive-thru graduation ceremony hosted at Central Park Monday morning. June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Golden Valley High School seniors walk in a drive-thru graduation ceremony Monday morning. June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Golden Valley High School graduating senior Angela Fabian gets into her car after walking at a drive-thru graduation ceremony hosted at Central Park Monday morning. June 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

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