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Santa Barbara High School Seniors Cap Off Their Journey with Graduation

The ceremony includes a moving moment with Grace Fisher, a teen stricken by paralysis last year who is now receiving treatment at a Denver hospital

Santa Barbara High School alum and Santa Barbara Unified School District board chair Ed Heron hands out diplomas during Wednesday’s graduation ceremony.
Santa Barbara High School alum and Santa Barbara Unified School District board chair Ed Heron hands out diplomas during Wednesday’s graduation ceremony. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

More than 500 students clad in olive and white robes marched into Peabody Stadium on Wednesday evening, excitedly waving to family and friends who cheered them on from the stands above before Santa Barbara High School's 2015 commencement ceremony.

SBHS grad
Santa Barbara High School Principal John Becchio speaks Wednesday during commencement. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Associated Student Body president William Belfiore applauded the students for their dedicated face-painting at each football game, late-night group projects and a "senior prank that came this close," he said, referencing an attempt to drive a vehicle into the school last week but that actually just left the car stuck at the school's front entrance.

He also took some jabs at rival high schools, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos, as well.

"You are graduating from 'the' high school," he told the graduates to cheers.

Seniors Grace Silver and Jennifer Rojas delivered commencement speeches, with Rojas delivering hers in Spanish.

Silver and Rojas thanked the parents, teachers, coaches and mentors who had invested in each of the graduates, equipping them to enter the next phase of their lives with confidence.

"You will all succeed even if you are unsure of what your future will hold," Silver told the graduating class.

Most moving from Wednesday's ceremony was when Belfiore introduced Grace Fisher, the teenager who was stricken by paralysis last year and is now receiving treatment at a Denver hospital.

Belfiore recalled being at Fisher's birthday party last year when she began experiencing symptoms that would later become serious.

She would have walked in the commencement ceremony on Wednesday had she not been undergoing medical treatment in Denver.

Though Fisher was not there on Wednesday, the audience heard her voice through an audio recording.

SBHS grad
Santa Barbara High School's seniors file into Peabody Stadium on Wednesday for graduation. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Her voice, though labored at times, expressed hope for recovery even as Fisher reflected on all she's been through thus far.

She recalled losing the use of her arms and legs, being unable to breathe and eat on her own, and the challenges she faces as she continues physical therapy.  

She said she's gained an insight into humanity through that hardship and encouraged the graduates.

"Tonight we depart from one phase of our life and another," she said. "The Class of 2015 will change the world and be changed by it."

Fisher was given a standing ovation from the crowd after the recording ended, and several minutes later when the diplomas were handed out, her name was called, and the applause rang out from Peabody Stadium.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

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