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Laguna Blanca Celebrates 82nd Commencement With 43 Graduates

School's graduating seniors say goodbye to their high school years and look forward to the future

Laguna Blanca’s Class of 2016 celebrates commencement Wednesday.
Laguna Blanca’s Class of 2016 celebrates commencement Wednesday.  (Dani DeVries / Noozhawk photo)

Laguna Blanca School celebrated its 82nd commencement Wednesday with a graduating class of 43 students, some of whom have been attending the school since kindergarten.

The small outdoor ceremony was held on the Santa Barbara campus in the Ruston Theater, which was packed with friends and family to celebrate the occasion.

Dressed in blue robes, the graduates came in one by one, walking by their teachers before taking their seats. Many decorated their caps to reflect their college plans for the fall.

The ceremony kicked off with an address from the head of school, Rob Hereford, who congratulated the class of 2016 on their accomplishments, referencing the class’ excellent exit interviews and senior project presentations.

Noting the strong sense of confidence and self-awareness the Class of 2016 possesses, he expressed his excitement at the new phase the students were going to enter.

Chairman of Laguna’s board of trustees, Mason Farell, reminded the students to embrace each of Laguna’s core values of scholarship, character, balance, and community as they move forward, and urged students to stay connected with their classmates.

This sense of community was evident among the class and was addressed by both of the student speakers at the ceremony.

Student body president Pierce O’Donnell, one of the student speakers, shared his thoughts on his experience at Laguna.

“My time at Laguna as been absolutely transformative; I started as a kindergartener, so I’m what we call a lifer, and I have enjoyed every facet of my education at Laguna Blanca,” he said.

“It’s much more than a school, it’s a community and a family. I’ll never forget my years here and I look forward to college and beyond,” he said. O’Donnell is destined for Harvard University in the fall.

Jacqueline Berci was the elected student speaker and she reflected on her time spent with her class, remembering a trip to Yosemite National Park they took as freshman, which ensured bonding despite spending time hiking through the cold and rain.

Berci, who has been at Laguna for six years, said, “it is much more than a school, the teachers and the faculty here care such an extreme amount about every student, and I think it shapes who you become, not just what you learn.” Berci is headed to Atlanta to attend Emory University in the fall.

In addition to the student speakers, four awards were presented to graduating seniors throughout the ceremony.

The senior character award, which is awarded to one male and one female student each year, was given to Alexis Yabsley and Cameron Morello. The position of valedictorian, which wasn’t announced until the ceremony, was awarded to Armon Ghodoussi. The senior project award was also awarded to Alexi Yabsley for her work in the STEM field.

Senior vignettes accompanied the awarding of the diplomas, with faculty members saying a few words about each student and revealing their plans for the fall. Students from the Laguna graduating class will be attending university at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Cal Berkley, and USC, to name a few.

The Class of 2016 Laguna Blanca Owls is as follows:

Danielle Rose Abrams

Chandler Scott Aubery

Isaac Baron-Varela

Jacqueline Alexis Berci

Theo Berriet

Mark Samuel Brown

Luisa Isabel Cameron-Coats

Gabriella Mahoney Campbell

Christopher G Costantino

R Henry Courtemanche 

Sarah Marie Dillemuth

Jose Mariano Espinosa

Robert Richard Estrada

Philip Thomas Fauntleroy

Christian Gregory Fowler

Travis Michael Fristoe

Armon Ghodoussi

Ruby Grace Haber

Payton Chapin Hassan

Michael Constantine Hawker

Phillip George Hicks

Yu Qian Huang

Tyler James Hurley

Emily Alice Lafitte

Bjorn Alexander Lindskog

Phoebe Christina Madsen

Jingjing Mai

Maxwell Robert Mayrock

Wakelin J. McNeel IV

Darwin Dasayed Miguel

Charis Elsa Emma Monrose

Cameron Burke Morello

Pierce Dublin O'Donnell

Sage Hilton Pickering

John Christopher Puzder

Benjamin Rios

Atticus Finch Roddick

Valeria Aryana Romo

Carson Shevitz

Madeleine Leigh Sokolove

Beatrice Grace Tolan

Kylan Tucker Tyng

Alexis Louise Yabsley

Noozhawk intern Dani DeVries 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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