Stories of perseverance, triumph through tragedy, and sheer hard work made up many of the experiences students shared during Canyon High School’s graduation ceremony on Thursday.
Like many graduation ceremonies, students shared thankful messages to their friends, families, and teachers before the ceremony began.
But during her welcome address, Principal Shellie Holcombe said her speech was “Gonna be a little different than in years past.”
“Recently, I had the privilege of meeting with some of our senior students who shared inspiring messages about their unique high school experiences,” said Holcombe. “So tonight I want to share their important heartfelt words.”
Some of these heartfelt words were written by Derek Barrios, who wrote that earning his diploma had a much larger meaning to him.
“This diploma represents an education system that ensures all young people here in Santa Clarita, regardless of privilege, have access to a first-rate education and exposure to the diverse beliefs and traditions that drive an ever-more complex world and a chance to experience the joy of learning,” said Holcombe, reading Barrios’ words.
As promised, Holcombe did not have a formal or lengthy welcome address but instead read the statements of 10 graduating seniors. She did, however, make a quick note as she finished.
“Thank you, seniors, for those beautiful messages that shines a light on a very challenging past four years. You have provided us with hope, insight, and a determined look forward,” said Holcombe.
Following Holcombe’s address came the first student speaker, valedictorian James Morrison. Morrison took the opportunity to thank individual teachers, family and staff.
After Morrison’s speech came the senior speaker Nina Canepa. Canepa took the opportunity to remind her classmates of the accomplishments they had made and that they should take pride in their determination.
“While facing unexpected circumstances, we made a community out of love and respect,” said Canepa. “We spoke up, we fought with bravery and we united despite our race, gender and ethnicity, we de-stigmatized mental health with programs like the Wellness Center and classes like social and emotional learning.”
In addition to speeches, Canyon High School’s senior choral members performed a harmonious rendition of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of your Life),” which was arranged by Mike Taylor and directed by Kelly Caswell.
A total of 452 students graduated at the ceremony, with approximately 80 who made honors. Following the conferring of diplomas, students shared what they overcame to get to this point. For Itay Hazan it was traveling over 7,000 miles and learning a new language.
“I moved here seven years ago… It’s like, new language, everything [is] new and sometimes I like, didn’t know how to react,” said Hazan “This is an amazing feeling, I’m the first one in my family to graduate…like in America, like in the movies. So my family’s proud.”