Claremont's really big show!
Other than a few honks from banned air-horns and some errant balloons that slipped their handlers’ grasps, Claremont High School’s graduation ceremony went off without a hitch Thursday.
Some 536 CHS students, 29 students from San Antonio High School and more than 40 Claremont Adult School graduates were sent off to their futures amid a flurry of pomp and circumstance.
Student representatives and school administrators took to the podium to share memories and provide inspiration. Adding to the positivity were student performances such as an all-male a cappella interpretation of Yael Naim’s “New Soul” and an instrumental version of “We Are Young” by fun.
CHS Principal Brett O’Connor opted to leave the graduating class with a bit of wisdom he gleaned from Karl Pillemer’s book, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.
Mr. Pillemer conducted extensive surveys and interviews with senior citizens, turning the results into a book highlighting their hard-won philosophies, priorities and perspectives.
“Find satisfying work,” Mr. O’Connor advised the outgoing students, adding that selecting a career based only on financial motivations is one of “the biggest mistakes.”
Mr. O’Connor shared a few other lessons, urging students to understand that happiness is a choice and encouraging them to express their appreciation to loved ones while they are still living.
The principal brought a hush to the crowd by mentioning a student who is no longer living, MacLean Whittle, who would have graduated had he not died last summer in a plane crash. MacLean, who was a member of the CHS Choir, was headed with his family to visit Brigham Young University.
A happier moment came when San Antonio High School student TeVin Woods, who served this year as a student board member for the CUSD school board, shared how the continuation high school changed his life.
TeVin started at San Antonio this August after moving to Claremont from Tennessee. He moved in with his brother, who is attending Claremont School of Theology, to get his off-track life back in order.
“My path hasn’t been easy. I lived life by the minute, with no future in mind,” he said.
At San Antonio, he found academic guidance amid the kind of teacher-to-student ratio that is only possible in a small, specialized environment. TeVin found an appreciation for eating healthfully and living mindfully through the school’s Food Justice Program. He also found new confidence through his time as a student representative for the CUSD board.
TeVin, who feels like a new man, plans to volunteer for AmeriCorps, and then head to community college. He ended his tribute with a rap about the school he has come to love. “Understand when I say/Don’t underestimate San Antonio any day.”
Though salutatorian Josephine Chen said she is confident each graduate “will accomplish something in one way or another,” other student speakers acknowledged that these are times of uncertainty.
In these tough economic times, paying for college can be a struggle. Nicole Clark, who will head to Yale this summer, plans to spend the next several weeks applying for as many scholarships as possible.
Brayan Lopez will be funding his future college education via the US military. He has joined the air force and leaves for training in Texas at the end of August.
Though he is eager to meet the future, CHS has been a great school, Brayan said. He has particularly loved Kermit Dixon’s British Literature class. Along with developing a fondness for classics like Beowulf and Wuthering Heights, Brayan learned a crucial lesson from Ms. Dixon, whom he says radiates passion for her subject matter.
“I learned to just enjoy life.”