"We have become witness to a political awakening among our students we haven't seen in 50 years," Grissom said.
Whether it be vocal involvement on local issues or joining a national movement to end gun violence, Grissom said the graduating class has spearheaded one political effort after another, opening the eyes of parents and teachers in the school community. The students leaving Mountain View High this year are sure to be future leaders wherever they go, he said.
"Whatever field of study or profession they choose, I have no doubt that they will accomplish great feats," he said.
Both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools held celebrations bidding farewell to the class of 2018 on Friday, June 1, as 970 students across both campuses received diplomas and prepared to move on to college, careers and whatever else awaits them.
Los Altos High School Principal Wynne Satterwhite gave the commencement address, followed by speeches from student speakers Megan Tsern and Diana Gonzalez.
Mountain View High School
Perhaps as a sign of the times, speakers at Mountain View's June 1 ceremony focused heavily on polarization and the need to sow unity despite extraordinary divisiveness. Senior Fiona McBride told parents and classmates that people seem more divided than ever — whether rich or poor, or Democrats or Republicans.
But Mountain View High School and the graduating seniors have risen above those differences, she said, fostering an accepting environment for students of more than 20 nationalities, with more than 80 clubs carved out for just about every academic, cultural and recreational identity imaginable. Undocumented immigrants aren't afraid to speak their minds on campus, students aren't afraid to march in protests, and the school newspaper, The Oracle, encourages tough conversations on race, religion, and sexual orientation.
Graduating seniors Carolyn Moor and Amira Patrawala, in a joint speech titled "Our facts speak for themselves," rattled off a list of achievements painting a class well-rounded with academic talent, creativity, activism and athleticism. Seniors enrolled in the school's AVID program, designed to help underrepresented youth prepare for college, received a record-breaking 115 college acceptances; students at Freestyle Academy flexed their creative muscles with multimedia projects that won 10 awards; 258 students registered or pre-registered to vote on campus; and the girls varsity soccer team competed in the Central Coast Section (CCS) finals four years in a row.
During those bustling years, the student-run Queer-Straight Alliance fought on behalf of LGBTQ rights issues on campus, working with teachers on using proper pronouns, while the Black Student Union sought to remove derogatory racial terms in the school's English department. And in March, 650 students walked out of class to protest gun violence, making a resounding endorsement for stricter gun control laws to help prevent school shootings.
Los Altos High School
For Los Altos senior Diana Gonzalez, graduating means a bittersweet parting of ways with a place she has called home for years.
In her speech to families and the graduating class on the Tom Burt Field, she said that Los Altos High School wasn't just a mandatory slog through classes; it was a place to hang out with friends, show dedication to a club or build close relationships with teachers. At times, she said, it felt like a literal home, considering the amount of time she spent on campus.
"There would be days when I would be here from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., running to lacrosse practice after school to helping out with the senior talent show," she recalled. "Los Altos High School is a home I will miss, and the time has now come to move out."
Although Gonzalez said many of the graduating seniors may be getting the jitters over walking on stage, receiving a diploma and facing the fact that they are heading out into the world and leaving the place they've called home for four years, she found the grads have had mixed emotions. A senior class poll found that more than two-thirds of the class was happy to be leaving, while the remaining 29 percent was sad to part ways with the school.
"We are finally graduating and moving on to new places where we will begin as nervous freshmen once again, but will grow to eventually call home as well," she said.
In a rousing speech, senior Megan Tsern described how graduating seniors fought hard to be the best students they could be. She called her peers heroes and warriors, seeking top spots in colleges with increasingly brutal college admission rates.
"When it comes to academics, we absolutely killed it," she said. "Whether you're off to an Ivy League or slaying the game at community college next year, going into the workforce or your third-choice school, it's undeniable this was an exceptionally gifted, hard-working class."
Tsern also gave credit to teachers and school administrators for supporting students on their journey through high school.
"Despite all the rules and mental challenges, it's undeniable that you each helped shape an important part of our path," she said.
This story contains 898 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.