Dressed in royal blue gowns and graduation caps, the Class of 2018 marked the end of their high school journey through their graduation ceremony at the East Los Angeles College on May 31.
For seniors, the moment of crossing the stage was sentimental yet packed with nervousness and exhilaration as friends and family watched them move onto adulthood.
“When I was crossing the stage, I felt really nervous, like I was shaking and I was so scared,” senior Angela Abutaha said. “But I also felt proud [because] my whole family was there to see me and all the people in front of me were seeing me.”
Chosen as the commencement speakers, seniors Nadia Ochoa and Emily Su, delivered their encouragements to the graduates. Su also dedicated her speech to appreciate family, friends, and teachers.
“Even though it’s cliché, I wouldn’t be the person I am today [without] them,” Su said. “I wanted my speech to have a balance between funny memories and serious lessons for all graduates to take away.”
Following the speeches, seniors and poets Erika Duran, Patricia Lipana, and Tabatha Perez from Young Aspiring Writers With Power performed “Today Means Amen” by Sierra DeMulder, adding on to the emotional night.
“The whole poem is about overcoming the obstacles of life and being alive to live a new day,” Perez said. “We just thought it was perfect for high school students because they go through a lot in their lives to make it to graduation.”
At the ceremony, valedictorian Carlos Carrillo and co-salutatorians Kevin Tang and Britney Ting led the turning of the tassel from right to left, which indicates one’s transition from a candidate to graduate. Although the title of valedictorian was “not that significant” to him, Carrillo said, “I was happy that my friends and family were proud of me, though, because I can share this success with them.”
For Ting, the title of salutatorian was a validation of all her effort in high school. In contrast, Tang believed that the school should end the practice of awarding the titles due to its competitive nature.
Recipients of the President’s Award for Educational Excellence and the Senior Class Council were also given recognition for their commitments.
“It felt really nice to be recognized for all the time I spent running around turning in forms, going to fundraisers, and planning events with my fellow council members and [our] adviser,” senior Randy Lee, Senior Class Council member, said. “A memorable moment was seeing almost all of my graduating class together during Chalk Day. This would be one of my last few moments with everyone again.”
The ceremony marked the last time at the baton for band director Tammy Cognetta, who recently decided to retire. Cognetta taught and inspired students at San Gabriel for 31 years.
“[At the ceremony,] we played one of my favorite songs, ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright,’” senior William Hoh, vice president of Band Council, said. “While we played that song, Mrs. Cognetta grabbed a mellophone and joined us. There’s no one better than she is at her job.”
Despite being century-old traditions, crossing the stage and turning the tassel continue to hold their values for some.
“They’re symbolic of transition and change,” English teacher Cady Burkhart, who walked with the seniors at graduation, said. “I go every year because I want my students to know that my support for them goes beyond the classroom [and] high school.”
Senior Ronalyn Victor felt that graduating meant leaving a protective bubble.
“Graduating means getting out of the safety of the system,” Victor said. “I’m no longer protected by my age or by the generosity of the school.”
As the new graduates head towards their individual paths, Principal Debbie Stone wished them the best of luck in their future endeavors and welcomed all to revisit SGHS in the future.