Seniors gather one last time at graduation

June 10, 2019 — by Kaylene Morrison

As the band played “Pomp and Circumstance,” the 305 graduating seniors took their seats on the football field under the admiring gazes of their friends and family on the cool, crisp evening of June 6.

Principal Paul Robinson began the commencement ceremony by introducing the members of the school board. Then, under the direction of Michael Boitz, Jason Shiuan, and Andrew Ford, the band and choir performed a rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

After the performance, Robinson gave a speech in which he thanked various faculty members for their hard work and announced the names of those who would be retiring this year. He then announced his own retirement and jokingly said that “through some very creative calculations and the fact that Saratoga High School will count my dancing in the staff Homecoming quad day as PE credits,” he could finally “graduate” along with this year’s seniors.

Robinson then introduced the first student speaker, ASB president Roshan Verma. Verma praised the accomplishments achieved by students during the four years that the Class of 2019 spent at the school, including the service drive which was held to provide relief for those affected by the 2018 wildfire season and the receiving of Family Giving Tree’s Excellence in Service award.

The next student speakers, Rachel Bakke and Isabelle Rieken, offered words of encouragement and listed the many mistakes made by the senior class over the years.

“Together, we made all these mistakes in high school, but they didn’t define our class or our lives,” said Bakke. “Rather, they shaped us …. They gave us personality, a couple of inside jokes and some memories to look back on and laugh about.”

Speakers Sarayu Pai, Kaitlyn Wang and Annie Xu urged the Class of 2019 to “search for ways [they] can contribute to this interdisciplinary challenge” of solving the climate change crisis. They said that although a majority of the seniors would not be entering fields of work dedicated to solving climate change, they could exercise their right to vote as well as apply the eventual jobs they will have to solving this problem.

Before the next two graduation addresses, senior class officers Nevin Prasad, Hanlin Sun, Khiara Berkowitz-Sklar and Enzo Coglitore presented gifts to the parents who had arranged Grad Night.

Then speaker Jamie Hong took a turn at the podium. Hong told a story about a particularly enlightening chemistry class taught by chemistry teacher Kathy Nakamatsu, remarking how she watched as “light bulbs went off over [her] classmates’ heads.” Hong concluded her speech with an inspiring quote from Dr. Suess to illustrate the journey she and her classmates would soon embark on during college and beyond: “And oh, all of the places we’ll go. For will we succeed? Yes, we will indeed. 98 and three-quarters percent guaranteed.”

Seniors Sanjana Melkote and Divya Subbiah gave the last graduation address. They summarized their experiences attending school in the Saratoga district from elementary school through high school as close friends, highlighting the difficulties they endured and achievements they accomplished. They acknowledged that it will be difficult to be apart from each other during college — a predicament that will test every friendship formed at Saratoga High — but reminded their classmates that they “will only be a facetime call away” from each other.

Following this last speech, the board of trustees read the diplomas, and Robinson and the senior class officers presented the 2019 graduates. After the last graduate received her diploma, the choir sang Saratoga High’s Alma Mater. Then the band performed “Omaha Beach” and “Rolling Thunder” as the light gradually grew dimmer and the graduates dispersed and took pictures with family and friends. Later that night, they gathered in the quad for the fun and games of Grad Night. Later they watched the senior video and the sunrise as a class and then went their separate ways.