Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 3:25 pm | Fair 75º

 
 
 
 

Santa Ynez Valley High School Bids Farewell To Class of 2016

Some 230 students graduate during ceremony at athletic stadium

Members of the Class of 2016 at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School walk in their graduation procession Friday.
Members of the Class of 2016 at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School walk in their graduation procession Friday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Decked out in black gowns and caps — many personalized in various ways —  230 members of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School class of 2016 graduated Friday afternoon as their principal told them to “go and make your dreams come true.”

Hundreds of family members and friends attended the ceremony at the Pirates athletic stadium, filling bleachers while carrying bouquets of flowers and balloons.

Principal Mark Swanitz introduced the class of 2016 for what he called the “best high school anywhere, the best faculty and staff any principal could hope to have, and the opportunity to educate some of the most amazing students the world offers.”

As he prepared his speech, Swanitz said, he reflected on his own far-from-perfect path with mistakes and squandered opportunity. Yet, he is happy, healthy and surrounded by those who love him, he said.

“This year, as I engaged on this annual catharsis, I came to the realization that I am who I am because of my failures, not in spite of them,” he said. “That failure in fact breeds success.”

Swanitz noted the life stories of many successful people who experienced failures early in their careers, reminding graduates that their friends and family do not expect them to be an overnight success.

“Nonetheless, they, and I, know without a doubt you will be successful. You are ready; your time is now,” said Swanitz, a member of the school's class of 1985. “Our country and world are facing difficult challenges and we’re counting on you to save us.

A Santa Ynez Valley High School graduate reveals her college destination. Click to view larger
A Santa Ynez Valley High School graduate reveals her college destination. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

"Just as you made Santa Ynez high school a better place by your time spent here, I know you and your generation will make the world a better place for all us.” 

Swanitz boasted that 47 members of the school’s class of 2016 graduated with highest honors — a grade point average of 4.0 or higher. 

Nineteen earned scores of 3 or better in Advanced Placement exams. while 75 are National Honor Society members. 

More than two dozen graduates earned the California State Seal of Biliteracy, he added.

Three graduates — Kendall Stevens, Natalia Clarke and Dominick Trevethan — spoke during the commencement. 

Graduation marks a time of nostalgia, celebration and change, Trevethan said, adding that graduates must face the fear of the unknown. 

Trevethan knows about facing unknown challenges. He shared about living with a degenerative muscle disorder, one for which doctors gave a grim prognosis while he was a young boy.

The stands were packed at Santa Ynez High School Friday for graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2016. Click to view larger
The stands were packed at Santa Ynez High School Friday for graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2016. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

One day, he said, he may wake up unable to control his electric wheelchair. 

“Why? Because change happens,” he added.

Stevens recalled the growth she and her classmates experienced in high school.

“Being a Santa Ynez Valley Pirate has given me and my classmates the opportunity to discover things we have searched for through academics and extracurricular activity,” Stevens said. “After attending the best high school in Santa Barbara County for four years, I have found answers regarding my passions, my strengths and my relationships with others.”

Her class is inquisitive, curious and ambitious while the ever-changing world become enigmatic and provides more technological resources, she said, adding her generation “refuses to settle for the already existing and continues to explore the unknown.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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.

Members of the Class of 2016 at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. Click to view larger
Members of the Class of 2016 at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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