Castaic High School graduated its first-ever class in a ceremony held at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium on Thursday, conferring approximately 307 diplomas in the process.
The school was opened in 2019 and, according to its Principal Vince Ferry, the class of 2023’s commencement signified the courage, success, perseverance and community of the group.
Ferry said there were several “wise and inspiring” things he could say in his welcome address, but that he wanted to just focus on saying “thank you.”
“Thank you for tackling all the obstacles and uncertainties. Responsibility is required when you are the first,” said Ferry. “Being the first required courage, the courage to start new traditions and to create new paths. Being the first required perseverance as you navigate a very unique and unparalleled high school experience and being the first required an unrelenting optimism in knowing that the steps you are taking would lay a strong foundation for Castaic High School for years to come.”
Ferry also asked everyone for a moment of silence for Nathan Esparza, who died in 2021 following a sudden cardiac arrest. Esparza’s family was at the ceremony to accept a diploma on his behalf.
The ceremony’s commencement speech was delivered by Sienna Harris, who likened the spirit of their class to the school’s mascot — the Coyote.
“Pioneers, leaders, innovators and trailblazers — these titles perfectly describe the students within Castaic’s Class of 2023,” said Harris. “In 2019, our class arrived on a campus with no upperclassmen and a surplus of uncertainty. But over my four years here, I realized that Castaic’s students never view the potentially intimidating prospect of being the first students at a brand new high school in a daunting manner. Instead, I found our students all share the unique ability to turn nervous uncertainty into fulfilling adventure.”
The ceremony also included several songs by the Castaic Concert Choir. As the first song played, many in the audience waved the flashlights on their phones like lighters at a concert in generations past.
The arts of the school were on full display. A poem recited by Nelson Morales titled, “Orange and Grey,” received strong reactions from the crowd.
“For our pride, for those colors, orange and gray, the colors on display, standing here today realizing we no longer get to stay. I’m glad I came here, honored to be a pioneer. Grateful to be a Coyote, to bleed orange and exceed the expectations of society, of our teachers, our critics, our enemies, those preying on our downfall — we prove them wrong. Like coyotes, we are strong,” said Morales.
The passing of the Light of the Pack, a torch hand-off similar to Valencia High School’s tradition, was introduced by Isiuwa Aimiuwu and Jaden Long.
“We stand here today. Let us take a moment to reflect on the journey we have been through together. It has been a remarkable experience filled with countless memories that we will cherish for a lifetime,” said Aimiuwu.
The Guiding Howl Award, given to a teacher based on a vote by the students, was presented to Sarah Awanessian.
“It’s definitely an honor to be chosen by this first class,” said Awanessian. “I’ve been with them for four years and we’ve been through a lot … it’s definitely a special moment to see them graduating and moving on.”
The first class of Castaic High School included 70 honors scholars, 40 career pathway completers, 54 National Honor Society members, 42 California Scholarship Federation members, six California Seal of Bi-Literacy recipients, 20 AP Scholar Award recipients, nine Southern California Division One band champions and 12 CIF baseball champions.