To the beautiful sound of Pomp and Circumstance, more than 430 seniors walked down the steps of 's front terrace Friday evening to become the institution's 124th graduating class.
Wearing their traditional caps and gowns, black for the boys and white for the girls—rows of four students at a time emerged from their school to the joy and pride of the nearly 3,000 people who watched them achieve one of the most memorable milestones of their lives.
Student speaker Siobhan Wynne elicited laughter from the graduates by telling them graduation would mean having to no longer worry about the "dreaded tardy."
She recalled going to lunch with her friends at the nearby on East Main Street and reminded her fellow classmates that they had not accomplished their graduation goal alone.
She thanked the school's administration for providing a good learning environment, the custodial staff for keeping the school grounds beautiful, the guidance counselors for helping students achieve their goals and the teaching staff, whom she described as "golden," for helping them learn despite challenges.
"Thank you for staying up late answering emails because we procrastinated our reading logs," she told the teachers. "Thank you for putting up with our calling out, our not-so-funny jokes and our excuses for missing assignments."
But mainly, she expressed appreciation to the educators for preparing the students for college, the workforce and life. "We would not have gotten here without each and every one of you," she said. "It's up to us now ... this is our moment. Let's get out there and make our fellowship proud."
In relating the "star fish story," student speaker Michaella Montana encouraged the graduates to make a difference for at least one person in their lives, just like the character in the fable that saves one starfish at a time by throwing them back into the sea.
Taking goals and intentions one step at a time is essential in living values, Montana said, adding that her goals would be to live "the three Cs," referring to courage, curiosity and compassion.
Student speaker reminded the graduates of all the possibilities in their path ahead and how those opportunities should be celebrated.
He called Friday's graduation a significant transformative period of life for the students. "Endings provide context and clarity—the ability to evaluate one's current trajectory," he said.
He said the conclusion of his high school career had shown him the diversity and uniqueness of the graduating class—artists, poets, athletes, actors, musicians and scholars.
"Today’s generation of young people is the first to have grown up under the heady cultural influence of Google, viral celebrities, a flattening world, ephemeral online social networks, and banks that are too big to fail," Esslinger said.
"The result is unprecedented: an entire class of young adults who have never
been more enterprising, well informed, and ambitious, nor as foolish, selfish, and irreverent."
Esslinger also acknowledged that in their lifetimes, the graduates would have to deal with issues that their parents and grandparents could not have even conceived of.
" ... Dire environmental crisis, the rapid rise of foreign powers, pervasive economic dislocation, and an increasingly interconnected world. How we tackle these challenges will depend on our ability to maintain the kind of youthful optimism and confidence that inexperience brings," he eloquently said.
School officials attending the graduation included members of the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District Board of Education, District Superintendent Bob Mistele and assistant principals Kristina Grasty, Valerie Arbizu and Rob Bobeda.
This year's valedictorian and salutatorian were and Hirsh Goswamy.
Los Gatos High School Principal Markus Autrey asked the graduates to look around and remember that the special occasion was taking place during a spectacular evening on a beautiful night and setting and remarked how he was amazed at how quickly the past four years had passed and how much the students had accomplished during that time.
"I just want you to take this moment, log it in your memory, cherish it and enjoy it," he said. "I also want to recognize the teachers and staff members who have spent the past four years teaching you, clearing your absences, giving you directions, serving you food, cleaning up after you, helping you figure out your next steps and many other countless tasks.
"This staff is dedicated to your academic success ... to your character development, to your confidence and the discovery and realization of your passions and interests. It gives us all great joy to see you in this moment after four years," Autrey added.
Los Gatos High School junior Steven Beveridge, 17, described the graduating class as tight-knit, sharing a close bond forged by years of shared experiences such as the suicide of the late student Jill Naber while they were sophomores.
Parent Robert Bassi, whose 17-year-old son Zack was among the graduates Friday, described the class as distinguished and going to great schools. He said he had attended a scholarship ceremony last week and was impressed to learn that many of the seniors would be going to West Point, the Air Force Academy and other prestigious schools.