Approximately 1,700 graduates, teachers, families, and friends joined together for Carlmont’s in-person graduation ceremony on June 4th.
After an entire year of online learning, the administration, including Principal Ralph Crame and Administrative Vice Principal Gregg Patner, decided to host an in-person graduation ceremony. With clearance from San Mateo County and strict adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines, the Carlmont class of 2021 reunited for one final event.
“The planning was very hectic at times because I think everybody was under the impression that we weren’t going to be able to have gatherings like this,” Crame said. “And so when everything opened up as quickly as it did, the process of setting up the event was very hectic and fast-paced.”
Still, the administration made sure to prioritize the health and safety of everyone attending. Seats were spaced three feet apart, and every graduate was only allowed to invite two guests. For those who could not attend, the ceremony was live-streamed on YouTube like last year.
Additionally, masks were required, and a ticket system was used to assign specific seats to all attendees.
“It’s so nice to see everyone again and just be all together. Everyone has been doing well and achieved a lot in the past four years. It’s great that we can celebrate those accomplishments in person safely,” Diana Hunter, who attended on behalf of graduate Calvin Hunter, said.
The ceremony began with a performance from bagpiper Chelsea Joy and drummer Andrew Koupal. They were followed by speeches from salutatorian Jennifer Xu and Associated Student Body (ASB) President Noah Camerino.
Both Xu and Camerino took the time to reflect on the challenges the class of 2021 faced throughout the past school year and encouraged them to use the resilience they have demonstrated to impact the world.
“How many others can say that they spent their senior year of high school online while battling wildfires, a global pandemic, and fighting against injustice in some of the most powerful movements of our time? These students have proven that they can not only adapt to whatever challenges are thrown their way, but they can and will push forward with immense strength and courage,” Xu said.
After the speeches, both the Carlmont Symphonic Band and the Singing Scots performed. Although the students who made up the band and choir could not attend in person, they prerecorded the songs to be played over loudspeakers at the graduation.
The ceremony then concluded with speeches from Senior Class President Naya Salah, Valedictorian Tej Tummala, and Crame, who all used the platform to celebrate the graduating class’s next steps in life.
“These past 13 years, we have prescribed everything for you,” Crame said during his speech. “You had very little choice until now. Now you get to go forth and forge your own path. Enjoy this new journey and remember to follow your dreams and work hard, and I guarantee good things will await you in the future.”
Along with graduation, ASB, the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), and the administration organized a few other end of the year events. For example, the Senior Gala, Senior Recognition Night, and Senior Picnic aimed to recognize and honor the class of 2021 for all of their hard work.
“The gala was so fun, and it was so nice to just celebrate our accomplishments with each other,” said graduate Alexia Hunter. “Especially after being online, it was really difficult mentally to continue, and everyone was losing their motivation. But having these events really just made all of our work worth it.”
Even after an entire year of distance learning starting in March 2020, the graduation ceremony became a community effort. Everyone, ranging from ASB to the Carlmont Performing Arts to the Board of Trustees, gathered together to put a memorable cap on an even more memorable year. And as the graduating class’s high school career came to a close, they were sent off with the support of the entire Carlmont community.
“Right now, it’s time for graduating class to define their own path. No one’s path or end destination is the same, and I just hope that they do the best job in finding their purpose, getting behind that, and building upon their future,” Patner said.