By Sandra Abdelmalak/Garden Grove Journal
For many high school students, graduation day is something they work towards and anticipate for four years. On Wednesday, June 20 the graduating seniors of Pacifica High School gathered outdoors with their family and friends on the grassy field and metal bleachers of the Bolsa Grande Stadium to celebrate their achievements in Pacifica’s 46th commencement ceremony.
Pacifica High School is one of eight schools to hold graduation ceremonies in the Garden Grove Unified School District from June 19 to 20.
“I think it’s a really bittersweet moment because, on the one hand, we’ve accomplished a lot and this is kind of the next step to a bigger and better journey, but I’m also leaving behind the friends that I’ve made and we have a lot of memories together,” said Daniel Tran, one of the graduates who will be attending UCLA next fall.
Listening to the speeches by their fellow classmates, Valedictorian Samuel Chiou, Senior Class President Nicole Urbina, and one of the Most Worthy Mariners Emiko Schwab, the graduating Mariners had a chance to take one last look at the high school memories before beginning a new part of their lives.
“Look around,” Urbina urged her classmates, “You have been sitting next to these kids throughout high school and now each of us will start our own journey.”
“One thing about high school is that you’re not just leaving behind a couple of friends,” said Haley Ferrin, “you’re leaving behind a whole family. You spend four years, if not kindergarten with these people and they just become family to you.”
As they turned their tassels from right to left, the Pacifica graduates were applauded by the crowds of family and friends looking down at them from the bleachers above. In addition to announcing special awards and honors to the graduates, Principal Jason Bevacqua reminded them to thank their parents and teachers who worked hard in helping them reach this significant point in their lives.
“It’s one of those things that you work for and prepare for,” said Adrian Davis-Harris, the mother of one of the graduates. “It’s a sense of pride but also a sense of sadness because she’s the baby girl.”
Because Davis-Harris is active duty military and her husband, Tony Harris, is in the military, her daughter, Sara Pulley had to change schools and move states during her high school years. But despite having to make new friends and adjust to a new school system, Pulley managed to graduate with the rest of her class and will be attending St. John’s University in the fall.
“I made sure in my deployment that my superiors understood that despite what was going on, the priority for me was to attend my daughter’s graduation,” said Tony Harris. “So it means the world to me to actually have that opportunity to be there.”
Before releasing them to accept their diplomas, Principal Bevacqua encouraged the Mariners to remember their school mantra which states, “Life is a journey, and only you hold the map.” With that final advice and the lyrics of John Legend, which were sung by Ian Garcia and say, “tomorrow’s starting now,” the Pacifica graduates of 2012 walked out of the stadium to begin the next chapter of their lives.
“All those experiences that I’ve had in high school are going to help me move forward into the future and make better choices,” said graduate Sophia Sherman.
“I was really nervous before here, listening to all those graduation songs and everything. But I’m really excited to move forward,” said graduate Huy Luong.