CALIPATRIA – The atmosphere of excitement among the graduates and the energetic crowd at the Calipatria High School Commencement on Wednesday, June 8th made it abundantly clear that the 2016 graduation was not only a formal academic ceremony, but also very much an intimate and lively celebration among close friends and family. With 75 graduating seniors, the commencement pulled out all the stops to make the night memorable, and with a very personal touch.
As the graduates entered the field one by one, each was met with an assortment of clapping, air horns, and chants. No graduate was anonymous at Calipatria High School. It was clear that Douglas Kline, Superintendent, had a deep familiarity and confidence in these students.
“You will work hard. You will be challenged. You will be hurt at times. But you’ll stand up, you’ll dust yourself off, and you will proceed forward,” Kline said.
The crowd demonstrated the intimacy among the Calipatria community by cheering as the students walked across the stage to receive their diploma, many of whom also gave a joyful hug to their Principal, Joe Derma. Perhaps the affective display was in response to Derma notifying the students during his earlier speech that hidden under each of the graduates’ chairs was a paper bag containing a cookie, intended for the students to enjoy at their leisure as the night’s ceremony proceeded.
Yet if there was any further doubt that many close friendships had developed among the students, school faculty, and the parents, it was duly dismissed as the stadium lights went dark and a video begun to play, showing “before & after” photos of each of the graduates.
”The video was amazing,” recalled Haley Shaubzada, one of the two Salutatorians along with Kassandra Ramirez. The Valedictorian was Paloma Ledesma, who upon stepping on stage to present her speech, was temporarily drowned out by her classmates’ cheers, including one boy bellowing “Genius! Genius!” as Ledesma began to share her reflections.
As music blasted out of the loud speakers upon the darkened football field, far too many glow sticks appeared among the graduates, confirming that at least a few of the school faculty aided in the distribution of the party favors to the students. Finally the video, and the ceremony, came to a climax as fireworks lit up the sky, while parents, family, and friends rushed the field to continue the celebration of this academic milestone.