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The Foothill Dragon Press

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The Foothill Dragon Press

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Saying a final goodbye to our seniors: Graduation 2024

Rihanna Samples
In the afternoon of June 11, 2024, seniors of Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) and their family and friends gathered together on the Ventura College football field to celebrate one of the most momentous occasions for each senior: graduation. Pictured above, Sarah O’Neil ’24 waves at her family and friends in the audience after making the long anticipated trek across the stage to receive her diploma. Decorated with scads of chords to celebrate her high school achievements, O’Neil plans to continue achieving her dreams by attending California State University, Chico in the fall.

On June 11, 2024, Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) said a final goodbye to the senior class of 2024 during the annual graduation ceremony. 

Wrapping up the school year at Foothill Tech is often considered to be a heartwarming and bittersweet experience that will forever be captured in the school’s memory. The commencement was hosted in Larrabee stadium at Ventura College (VC), where parents and guardians sat in the stands to see students graduate after four years of impactful education. Foothill Tech seniors, teachers and staff gathered in the VC gym before the ceremony, all eagerly waiting to get to the stage.

Fiona Aulenta

As the graduates walked out, music was blaring, welcoming them to their final moment of their high school experience. The teachers walked out first and as the graduates walked down, followed by Honor Court students and the “League of Inspirational Heros”. Some graduates had cords or stoles around their neck to represent their achievements in their four years and their heritage.

Katherine Tedford, assistant principal of Foothill Tech, said, “I think [graduation’s] a celebration of people’s accomplishments, and I think it’s a chance to recognize our students … we strive to be student centered in it.”

The 2023-2024 school year at Foothill Tech has been one to remember, as there have been many great events to look back on, such as dances, ASB events and trips. The ceremony included time where teachers and students could talk and laugh, reminiscing on these various memories and enjoying their final moments together. But saying goodbye to their fellow Dragons is bittersweet for most, especially because Foothill Tech is additionally saying goodbye to a few teachers who have made their mark on campus, but will now be following a new path in life, just like the graduating seniors.

After receiving their diplomas, twins Kelsey Crist ’24 and Zac Crist ’24 pose for the camera. The smiles on their faces mirror those of their classmates, everyone ecstatic yet nervous for the next chapter of their lives. (Rihanna Samples)

Cherie Eulau, who has seen twenty graduations at Foothill Tech, is sadly retiring. But the most rewarding thing about graduation for Eulau is that for students, “it’s a new chapter in their life, and they’re walking across that stage into the next stage of their life.” 

Alberto Ortiz, who is also leaving Foothill Tech, has similar feelings about graduation and seeing his students leave, saying that his favorite part is, “To see them grow academically and personally and emotionally.” 

Each student at Foothill Tech has a different path in life, and graduation is just the first step towards this. This can vary from attending Cal State Long Beach and studying marine biology like Ashley Brown ‘24, or attending UC Berkeley and majoring in biomedical engineering like Adler Swierkocki ‘24. The academic and social environment at Foothill Tech is certainly one that is tough to let go of for many, but moving on to college, joining the workforce or even taking a gap year, are experiences that students are prepared for due to their time at Foothill Tech. And while these exciting new experiences may be thrilling, there will always be memories left at Foothill Tech for each student. 

Swierkocki states, “I have a lot of really close friends here, and I also have a very close relationship with a lot of the teachers. So, you know, leaving that behind is definitely kind of difficult but exciting at the same time.” 

The ceremony continued with two speeches from the Senior Class president and Vice President, Serena Martinez ’24 and Angelina Hernandez ’24. They congratulated the 227 students who were  going to walk the stage to graduate.

Throughout the ceremony, principal Russell Gibbs directed the line of events that took place during the great time of celebration. From mentioning where each senior is taking their future to, such as a university or serving our country, to celebrating the teachers and staff members who are moving on with their life and embarking on new paths, all were mentioned. Along with this, Gibbs also celebrated himself and his time at Foothill Tech as he announced that he will be taking his talents to Pacific High School (Pacific). (Taylor Schmidt)

Russell Gibbs, leaving principal of Foothill Tech, then started announcing the colleges students would be attending, and when a student heard their college they stood up. Afterwards, he announced the various achievements students had made over the years, such as exceptional community service hours, participation in programs or pathways and other acknowledgements. He then recognized the three teachers that would be retiring or leaving Foothill Tech: Heather Ferris, Lynne Barnes and Cherie Eulau. 

Gibbs went on with his speech, congratulating the senior class and made the announcement that he will be leaving Foothill Tech in the upcoming year to be the principal at Pacific High School (Pacific).

Karen Estrada ‘24 then delivered her speech, speaking in both Spanish and English, and finishing with a quote by Olaf, the snowman from the movie “Frozen,” quoting that, “some people are worth melting for.” Afterwards,  the class of 2024 began to get certified and both Ortiz and Juana Vega as they announced the names of the graduates. 

To conclude the afternoon, students, Gabriel Takaya ’24, Nisha Reddy ’24, Justin Wessel ’24 and Natalie Schermer ’24 sang “Life is highway” with the support of coordinated clapping by the graduates in a uniting experience. Following this, Leo Pankratz ‘24 was the final senior speaker to be invited up for the day.

At the end of the ceremony, the class of 2024 turned their tassels, and as the speakers started to play Taylor Swift, the graduates began walking down the field and leaving high school behind as another milestone in their life. Seniors walked away with their diplomas and achievements in hand, smiles on their faces and can go into the future with whatever they choose to do. 

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About the Contributors
Aubrey Alderman
Aubrey Alderman, Reporter
First-year news reporter.
Audrey Szijj
Audrey Szijj, Writer
I'm a sophomore and a singer/songwriter/guitarist/pianist. Also I like strawberries.
Rihanna Samples
Rihanna Samples, Multimedia Editor
A junior who is constantly looking at the world through the lens of a camera.
Taylor Schmidt
Taylor Schmidt, Photographer
I'm a first-year photographer who enjoys spending time with my family, friends and sleeping in.

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