Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 5:58 pm | Fair 58º


Celebrating Perseverance, Bishop Diego High Graduates Ready to Embrace Their Future

59 students look back on their accomplishments, then step up to accept their diplomas at 56th commencement ceremony

Bishop Diego High School celebrated the academic careers of 59 new graduates during commencement ceremonies Saturday at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden. Click to view larger
Bishop Diego High School celebrated the academic careers of 59 new graduates during commencement ceremonies Saturday at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Dressed in red and white caps and gowns, 59 Bishop Garcia Diego High School graduates switched their mortarboard tassels to right from left Saturday morning during the private Catholic school’s 56th commencement ceremony at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden.

Class valedictorian Joanna Pacheco said parents and teachers can no longer shelter the graduates from the world. She reminded her classmates to value perseverance in life.

“The day has finally come,” said Pacheco, who plans to study biology or chemistry at Westmont College in the fall. “Just yesterday we were filling our first high school lockers with heavy textbooks. Today our role as high school seniors comes to an end.”

She reminded her peers that commencement is more than saying goodbye, the ceremony celebrates the knowledge they’ve accrued.

“As Bishop graduates and college-bound young adults, our job is to confront the evils and injustice that exist in our society,” Pacheco said. “Take up our responsibility as pilots of our own lives and steer the world toward greater destinations.”

Salutatorian Sarah Leicht, who plans to attend UC Davis to study environmental science and management, said navigating the complexities of high school was not an easy task.

“While we move forward, we should never forget how far we have come,” she said. “Along the way, we encountered countless obstacles. We survived tedious class work and last-minute projects.”

Leicht urged her fellow graduates to continue their passion beyond high school, and she said each student stands ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. She thanked her family, faculty, coaches and peers for their support.

Principal Paul Harrington said the students are a family in every possible way.

“These young men and women understand one another, support one another and accept one another,” said Harrington, who is stepping down later this month after six years in the position.

“Importantly, they forgive one another. The respect, compassion and mercy that comes so easily to them are values adults often find difficult to display among themselves.”

Harrington introduced longtime teacher and personal counselor Sister Helen Wolkerstorfer as commencement speaker, calling her “the most treasured possession at Bishop.”

Wolkerstorfer said every student in the Class of 2016 enters a world filled with tremendous opportunity. In her speech to graduates, she told them to imagine the endless opportunities to be creators of a better world.

“The future is incredibly exciting and packed with unmanageable changes — driven by computers, software, developing sciences and technologies,” said Wolkerstorfer, who has worked at Bishop for 40 years.

The ceremony included an opening prayer, singing of the national anthem and an invocation led by a U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Color Guard. Student Summer Soto received the Cardinal of the Year Award, a mark of recognition voted by her graduating class.

Bishop board chairman Nicholas Vitalari provided concluding remarks.

“The future is waiting for you,” he said. “I know many people are unsettled because there’s a lot of uncertainty. There is tremendous opportunity. Be bold.”

Many Bishop students have been admitted to notable colleges around the country, among them Chapman University, UCLA, USCBoston College, Emerson College and New York University.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >