In separate ceremonies at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools last Friday, seniors wrapped up four exciting and history-laden years with speeches, tears and an acknowledgment that they are graduating in interesting times.
The ceremonies, capping a week of graduations in the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, were unusually community-minded this year, with students noting the deaths of teachers and other students, state budget cuts, economic turmoil and the election of the first African-American president of the United States.
Los Altos High graduated its largest-ever class of 373 students, and Mountain View High graduated 344 seniors in its class. Earlier in the week, the Adult School and Alta Vista High School also held graduation ceremonies.
Both of the comprehensive high schools held their ceremonies on the lawn, with teachers and students giving moving, sometimes funny speeches before the graduates received their diplomas.
Agustina Lopez, one of two student speakers at Los Altos High, thanked her classmates for giving "the kind of motivation that was necessary to succeed."
Echoing other speakers, she said the Class of 2009 was fully prepared and inspired to make a palpable difference.
"This year was an exciting year for all of us. Not only is this the year we graduate but we witnessed our country go through change by electing the first African-American president," she said. "We know significant change is possible."
In her speech to the Class of 2009, Los Altos Principal Wynne Satterwhite said she was sad to say goodbye to the students. But she added proudly, "They have the hope and belief in a better tomorrow."
At Mountain View High, the seniors held a lively ceremony with Theodore Peng and Daniel Garber chronicling the last four years in a skit about how to survive high school.
"Don't complain about your homework, because you don't have any," Garber said of freshman year.
Speaking about junior year, he said, "The only reassurance we can give you is that, yes, it will end. But no, there isn't anything worse."
The two ended on a sentimental note, saying they will miss the school that "made the last four years superb."
"Next fall, our classmates will pursue the futures around California, the U.S., and abroad -- but we'll leave our hearts at MVHS," Peng said.