Cheers rang through Ventura College’s auditorium this afternoon as red, black and white confetti shot over the heads of the 11th graduating class of Foothill Technology High School.
In preparation for their graduation, seniors gathered beforehand to get ready for the upcoming ceremony.
“I of course feel nervous and excited all at the same time. It’s quite paradoxical, bittersweet I guess,” graduate Joseph Vielbig said. “I’m glad to be done with most of it. At the same time, I will miss the people, teachers, and experiences. It will be sad to see it go.”
Twelve members of the junior class volunteered to be on the Dragon Honor Court and helped set up for the ceremony. The volunteers were Caleb Bigler, David Birdwell, Anna Cogswell, Bridget Coonan, Carson Graves, Brianna Houska, Mallory McPherson-Wehan, Christopher Ramirez, Blake Silva, Antonio Solano, Paige Treloar-Ballard and Emma Woods.
Woods enjoyed helping the seniors with all the activities, and seeing the close relationships that the seniors shared.
“The people in the senior class are all very unique in their own ways, and they all sit together like a family and include everyone,” she said. “I know that the seniors have put in so much time at Foothill to get to where they are today and I wanted them to enjoy all of the senior activities so I wanted to help by working with them.”
The Dragon Honor Court helped the Senior Advisors with events such as the Senior Barbecue and Senior Awards Night, and also assisted the seniors as they prepared for graduation.
As for the graduates, they waited excitedly, making final adjustments to their caps and gowns before graduation began. Jocelyn Veyna was apart of this group and reflected on her class as hardworking and intelligent students as a whole.
“I am apart of a very smart class, we all work so hard that we push and challenge each other to succeed. It comes as a desire to help each other become successful in and out of school,” Veyna said.
Teachers and administrators, followed by the Dragon Honor Court, walked to their seats as “Pomp and Circumstance” played. The graduates then walked down two side aisles to meet and give piggyback rides, high fives and hugs as they made their way to their seats.
Education of the Digital Age teacher Kristen Pelfrey said that the Class of 2013 was the first class to be referred to as “angel potatoes,” a term of endearment that she uses for her students.
“I will cry, I cry every year,” Peftry said. “I have kleenex in my sleeve.”
Senior class president Stephen Mariani introduced this year’s League of Inspirational Heroes as the seniors took their seats. These heroes are educators or coaches that have mentored or inspired the graduates. This year, the senior class invited 53 to the ceremony.
Graduate Emily Park was a recipient of the summa cum laude, a Finish Strong honoree, apart of the bioscience academy, a F.I.R.E leader, inducted into the Dragon Hall of Fame, received the golden merit seal and multilingual seal recipient, and an exemplary community service award. She performed “The Star Spangled Banner” on the piano while the class of 2013 sang along.
After the graduates received their diplomas, twelve students, including Hayley Abourezk-Pinkstone, Lauren Amendola, Emilia Covault, Amelia Gomez, Alexandra Grundler, Stephen Mariani, Guillermo Mederos, Andre Sehati, Anna-Marie Tan, Jackson Tovar, Marnie Vaughan, and Annabelle Warren, sang an acapella version of “Don’t You Forget About Me.”
“What makes life valuable and what makes you successful in life is the effect you have on other people,” principal Joe Bova said. “Keep this in mind when you start thinking about yourself too much, and look outward rather than inward. You will be happier and more productive.”
Of the graduates, 98% will attend either a four-year university or a junior college, and three students will enter the military. One hundred and four graduates received the Golden State Seal Merit Diploma.
“This is a very close class. They made the community culture at school stronger and tighter. They are attending many, many impressive universities. But more than that, they are a special tight knit group,” Bova said.
Forty-two students graduated magna cum laude, meaning they received a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 or higher. Eleven students graduated summa cum laude, meaning they graduate with a 4.4 GPA or higher. A total of 118 students graduated with honors, or with a 3.5 GPA.
Vielbig recognizes the amount of work that Foothill students like him have put in, and feels that is has helped him grow as a person.
“Here, they throw a lot at the students, and you think you will drown under the work. But with the teachers experience, they know to push you far enough to help you grow,” he said. “I am able to balance various courses better and function under stress. Instead of sinking, we thrive.”
Kathleen Leonard, mother of graduate Cara Crosland, was proud to see her daughter walk across the stage and received her diploma.
“I will be crying tears of joy and happiness. I am so proud of her, I can remember her as a baby,” Leonard said.
Graduate Seychelle Kauffman said that she is excited to graduate from highschool, even though it hasn’t set it in that she isn’t in high school anymore.
“I am going to miss seeing everyone daily, and I will wonder where they all go in their lives,” Kauffman said.
Multiple graduates are excited for what the future holds and what opportunities they might encounter.
Graduate Edward Hayek believes that as a whole, the Class of 2013 will have a positive influence on the world.
“The strength of our class is very obvious, and we are all really hard workers,” Hayek said, “and hopefully we will all leave our footprints.”
Compared to students at other schools, those who are attending college next year feel prepared for what challenges they might face.
“I feel very prepared for college. I have friends at Buena and Ventura who don’t feel prepared, where I feel like I have done college work already,” graduate Anna-Marie Tan said. “I feel ready.”
Graduate Christian Reed also believes that he will be prepared when he enters college, and feels like “a weight is lifted off [his] shoulders.”
“From here on, I hope that we keep the legacy going,” Reed said.
Credit: Aysen Tan, Josh Ren & Melissa Marshall/The Foothill Dragon Press