While Samohi’s Class of 2019 graduation ceremony helped to usher grads to their eventual bright futures, one theme reverberated throughout the evening: don’t just wait to see what the future holds, go on and seize the day.

Samohi’s Class of 2019 graduation ceremony took place Tuesday, June 11. The ceremony honored over 670 grads, 47 valedictorian candidates among them with Shrayes Ramen earning the top honor.

A raucous crowd of families and supporters of graduating students filled the Samohi outdoor theater to the brim, cheering and hollering whenever their grad was mentioned. The evening was filled with heartfelt speeches, lighthearted quips, an orchestral performance, a poem and even a cover of a Queen classic.

The school’s ASB and Class President kicked off the night with a speech, a humorous and reflective salutation that saw the two students ponder the passage of time.

“We’re only presidents for the next two hours, so let’s get started,” ASB president Ryan Chien quipped.

“This is a celebration of the end of grade school and the beginning of our journey into adulthood,” Class President Kaylah Brown added. “We made this journey together and we’ll continue to be ‘19 Vikings at heart.”

Next, senior Claudia Espinoza delivered “2019”, a poem which had parents next to this reporter exclaiming “God, I have goosebumps.”

The poem tackled Espinoza’s insecurities and struggles with mental health while attending Samohi. She exclaimed that despite those trying times, she’s proud to make it to today, where she proudly stood at a podium and delivered  a crowd-pleasing line: “I got this cap and gown / and I’m wearing it like a crown / because all I ever wanted to do / was make my momma proud.”

Dr. Antonio Shelton, Samohi’s principal, spoke next. After applauding the poem and talents of Samohi seniors, Shelton delivered a favorite quote of his from Dr. Seuss’s ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’.

Congratulations! Today is your day /  You’re off to great places / You’re off and away / You’ve got brains in your head / You’ve got feet in your shoes / You can steer yourself any / Direction you choose / You’re on your own / And you know what you know / And you are the guy / Who’ll decide where you go.”

Shelton said the poem held special importance to him as it asks readers to be present in their everyday lives, valuing each day, something he hopes Samohi grads do as they begin their new direction in life following the ceremony.

“Set the tone,” Shelton began. “Tell yourself that today, I’m expecting to succeed, to be the best I can be. Today I can get the job of my dreams. I’m asking you to get rid of the ‘one day…’ mentality. Have a right-now attitude. Nothing will stop you from reaching your goals. Today is your day.”


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