Holding on to Hope and a Positive Attitude, Vistamar School’s Graduating Seniors Concluded One of the Most Unprecedented School Years in History
Congratulations, Class of 2021!
- Written byLaura L. Watts
- Photographed byCW Productions
Completing high school and receiving a diploma is always a reason to celebrate. Seniors work hard to put the finishing touches on the educational path they started many years earlier, while simultaneously making plans for college, career or other adventures. Family, friends and school administration honor their achievements with graduation ceremonies and celebrations. This has been the norm for every graduating class as far back as anyone can remember.
But a year of living with a global pandemic and widespread shutdowns changed everything. Students faced challenges that were previously unimaginable. Earlier this year it was unclear whether circumstances would allow a “normal” graduation celebration for the Class of 2021. The sacrifices made by the graduating seniors at Vistamar School— combined with the strength and resolve they exhibited—point to a powerful future, said head of school Chris Bright during his commencement speech in June.
“I believe you are ready for whatever it is that’s coming next, and our school is a better place because of you.”
“These 77 truly amazing individuals have—through an incredible force of will, determination and commitment—completed their high school career in the most inconvenient circumstances and now stand on the precipice of something entirely new … poised to bring their talents, their hopes and their lives into the future,” Bright said.
To follow COVID-19 safety protocols, the June commencement ceremony was held outside under a tent constructed for the occasion, with family and friends looking on. After receiving their diplomas, each Vistamar graduate took a celebratory processional on the red carpet to self-selected music showcasing a range of individuality.
Despite experiencing much of their senior year apart, connection was an important theme emphasized over the past few months. “There is an invisible string that connects all of us, and you can tug on it when you need a friend and we will all either come running, flying or swimming over to you,” said senior Tess MacFarlane during her commencement speech. “After what the class of 2021 has been through, I think we have proven we are able to stick together and protect our invisible string!”
Vistamar’s Student Services team created several events leading up to graduation to bring the class together and emphasize that theme of connection. “Because so much has been taken away this past year, we wanted to create something memorable, something special, something that you would be able to hang on to and take with you for the rest of your life,” Jason Gregory, assistant head of school, noted to the graduating seniors.
Some of these events included a senior prom on Vistamar’s patio, a senior sunset celebration at the beach, a catered senior breakfast, a senior retreat and a night at Universal Studios. The evening before graduation, the seniors were celebrated at an event with their parents, guest speakers and a slide show commemorating their four high school years.
“I firmly believe that the resilience and courage you’ve needed to push through an unthinkable year has brought you to today,” Gregory told the group. “You are able to draw upon one another for strength and conviction as you emerge together as the class of 2021.”
Founded in 2005 to bring students together to learn from each other and become global citizens, Vistamar School prides itself on its challenging academics offered in an intimate atmosphere that supports caring relationships and a diverse community. The resilience and accomplishments of this year’s graduates are clear as they leave Vistamar and embark on their next steps.
Members of the Class of 2021 were accepted into more than 130 schools across the U.S. and abroad. They will attend 58 colleges, including schools in Scotland and Ireland. More than 70% of graduating students will leave California—the highest percentage in Vistamar history.
“This is the A+ class: artists, athletes, aware activists, adventurers and authentic people,” says Pamela Davis, Vistamar’s director of life planning. “They have largely learned to ignore the noise and focus on walking a path that feels true and right to them.”
As Bright concluded his speech to the graduates on their special day, he left them with this empowering thought: “I believe you are ready for whatever it is that’s coming next, and our school is a better place because of you. Congratulations!”
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