While it was an unconventional ceremony, Sequoia School celebrated its largest-ever graduating class Monday with a drive-thru graduation ceremony.
As cars drove through Central Park with streamers, balloons and window paint congratulating the graduates, seniors donned their caps and gowns and walked across the stage, where their names were called and a graduation photo was taken as cheers could be heard through the parking lot.
Sequoia had also released a virtual graduation video that could be watched by graduates at home, where each student’s name was called and their photo displayed, along with speeches made by staff and students and a plethora of photos from throughout the seniors’ time at Sequoia.
“To the incredible Sequoia graduates, I have missed you,” Sequoia Principal Catherine Nicholas said in the video. “It has been my privilege to lead a school filled with such flexible, resilient, kind and compassionate students. Making it through this year proves you can make it through anything.”
Nicholas went on to touch on the graduating class’ theme for the year, which was to “live a great story.”
“You all have interesting stories with many chapters yet to be written,” she added. “You were born right around the time of our nation’s 9/11 tragedy and survived a senior year that will go down in history. You persevered through fires, blackouts, a tragic school shooting in our community, and now the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted our lives, your education and stripped away your senior activities … Having these milestones taken from you has to have been hard and very disappointing, yet here you are. You did it.”
This chapter in these seniors’ lives is “one for the history books,” as Nicholas said.
Holly Cabuhat, Educationally Related Intensive Counseling Services, or ERICS, therapist at Sequoia, echoed that sentiment, adding, “This year has not been easy for anyone, and it’s important to recognize the difficulties that this year has brought. … Through it all, you have remained a backbone to our school and have demonstrated strength and endurance.”
In the video, scholarships were presented to some of the graduates and teachers had the opportunity to talk about each of the graduating seniors, sharing their accomplishments and wishing them well on their future endeavors.
In addition, valedictorian and student speaker Jason Eskildsen gave a speech, discussing what he has missed most about Sequoia during the last few months of distance learning before thanking the staff and his peers for help to shape his future.
“Unfortunately, nothing can last forever,” Eskildsen said. “After graduation, we will all most likely go on our own adventures, our own journeys to make our own successes. And I know I don’t have to hope for all of you to succeed, as before me are some of the most talented and dedicated people I have known. Today is a day of conflicting emotions, as I’m happy that we all get to forge our own paths, and I am sad that most of those paths will not cross.”
William S. Hart Union High School District Superintendent Mike Kuhlman and Nicholas closed the virtual ceremony with a video compilation of each student moving their tassel, then throwing their caps into the air. Though cheers were virtual, wishes and sentiments for the graduates could be felt throughout the video.
To view Sequoia’s graduation video, visit bit.ly/SequoiaGraduation.