High school graduation is seen as a bridge to future endeavors and accomplishments, and at Santa Monica High School that sentiment is taken quite literally.
One by one, after having their names announced before a packed Greek Theater, members of the Class of 2016 walked a railed plank across the venue’s semicircular pool Wednesday evening to shake hands with district officials and signify their departure from the campus they’ve called home for the last four years.
“As you cross that bridge,” Samohi principal Eva Mayoral told the graduates, “symbolizing the foundation you’ve laid and the obstacles you’ve already conquered, hold your head up high with eyes fixed on your dream destiny.”
Samohi this year celebrated the achievements of 710 new alumni, a 4.7-percent spike on the 678 students in the school’s Class of 2015.
Valedictorian honors were bestowed upon Christopher Ferrarin, who claimed the title that Nicholas Charchut and David Lin shared last year. Ferrarin, a talented student and musician, was one of 24 candidates for the distinction who had earned perfect 4.0 grade-point averages throughout their high school careers.
Christopher Alba, who was active in student government and Junior State of America, among other extracurricular activities, was selected as salutatorian.
Student body president Dean Chien and class president Leiloni Reynoso spoke briefly, as did Zain Delawalla and Muizz Jivani. The ceremony featured several musical arrangements, including a harmony-rich rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” by Romie Drori, Jessica Fuller, Ben Ross and Sophie Schwarz.
Antonia Fuller addressed her classmates through a narrative poem, acknowledging their growth over the last four years but also urging them to think about how they’ll continue developing in the future.
“We all started out so small, and yet look at how far we have come,” she said. “I ask: Who will you be? Who will we be?”
If the history of Samohi alumni is any indication, the members of the Class of 2016 will be many things: lawyers and doctors, teachers and artists, business executives and government leaders. Mayoral said this year’s graduates must strive to live up to the school’s rich tradition.
“Every day, Samohi alumni are extending society’s visions beyond the outer reaches of our universe and our imaginations,” she said. “They run court rooms, operating rooms and classrooms. They win gold medals, Super Bowls, World Series, Academy Awards and Emmy Awards. … This is your heritage. So take a deep breath, Class of 2016.”
Samohi’s graduating class includes a collection of standout student-athletes who will continue playing sports in college, including basketball star Jonah Mathews (USC), baseball players Jaylon McLaughlin (Nevada) and Lowell Schipper (Richmond) and sprinter Marcel Espinoza (Cal State Fullerton).
“Today is the day,” Mathews tweeted before the ceremony, adding a graduation cap emoji. “having mixed emotions.”
Alexis Negrete, a member of the varsity cheer squad who traveled to Florida in February to compete in a national championship event, on Wednesday morning posted an image of a cartoon bear being catapulted into the air, a reference to Kanye West’s 2007 album “Graduation.”
The soundtrack of Wednesday evening’s ceremony was a mixture of raucous cheers, blaring air horns, confetti cannons popping and, of course, encouraging words.
“Be reminded that transforming dreams into reality is a function of just two things: hard work and plain-old stubborn determination,” Mayoral said. “Don’t sabotage your journey with the destructive self-debate over what may or may not be possible. Just map out the pathway between Present You and Future You and begin.”