Valencia celebrates two-day graduation ceremony

Graduating senior Jenna Peterson celebrates during the Valencia High School graduation ceremony, second day, at Central Park in Saugus on Wednesday, June 10, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Valencia High School concluded the second in its two-part graduation for the Class of 2020 on Wednesday.

This year, the graduating class of Valencia High School reached 700 students, 170 of whom graduated with honors.

The two-part graduation had its first section begin on Tuesday with a drive-thru graduation, followed by a second drive-thru graduation on Wednesday.

Supporters of graduating senior Keila Okubo pop out of the sun roof for photos during the Valencia High School graduation ceremony, second day, at Central Park in Saugus on Wednesday, June 10, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal

Graduating senior Laila McGee celebrates after the Valencia High School graduation ceremony, second day, at Central Park in Saugus on Wednesday, June 10, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal

Much like the drive-thru graduations from previous William S. Hart Union High School District schools, the ceremony featured students pulling around in their cars, along with their parents and family, to receive their diploma on a stage.

The drive-thru graduations have allowed students to remain socially distanced while also receiving a form of the traditional ceremony.

After students received their diplomas, a chorus of faculty and staff standing nearby cheered on their graduating students one last time.

On Friday, the Vikings had posted their virtual graduation that was available for the public to watch.

Alex Phan, right, helps graduating senior Erica Mendoza prepare for photos after the Valencia High School graduation ceremony, second day, at Central Park in Saugus on Wednesday, June 10, 20. Dan Watson/The Signal

Valencia Principal Stephen Ford said he realized the exceptional nature of the Class of 2020 because of the unanticipated events that had impacted the student body: from fires, to the Saugus High School shooting, to the pandemic that brought their life on campus to an unceremonious end.

“Our students have prevailed through danger, heartbreak and disappointment,” said Ford. “However, we are not defined by these events, but how we respond to them. And our Viking family has risen to the occasion every time.”

Ford said that, each year, he is reminded of the tenderness and trepidation of the incoming freshmen, but that they eventually become mature adults who have thought about where they want to take the rest of their lives.

Eva Dunn celebrates at The Valencia High School graduation ceremony held at Central Park in Saugus on Tuesday, June 09, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Valencia High School Assistant Principal Jannelle Olivier, left, and Hart School Board President Linda Storli , right, change the tassel on graduating senior Sophia Falabella during The Valencia High School graduation ceremony held at Central Park in Saugus on Tuesday, June 09, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

“You’ve come a long way from where you began; you’re mature, focused and ready to enjoy all life has to offer,” said Ford. “There is no place you can’t go and no accomplishment you can’t achieve.”

Class speaker Brooke Friedman also spoke about the perseverance of her fellow graduates, who not only are graduating during a global pandemic, but were also born into a world that had just experienced 9/11.

Friedman then quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us (are but tiny) matters compared to what lies within us.”

“The time is now, and we’re ready,” said Friedman.

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