History, family and a sense of accomplishment were some of the themes and ideas expressed during the 61st annual Providence High School graduation on Saturday afternoon at Forest Lawn’s Hall of Liberty in Los Angeles.
The day was not only the final ceremony for 99 seniors taking part, but also for eight-year head of school Joe Sciuto, who is leaving later this month for a similar post at a school in Pasadena.
While Sciuto’s replacement, Scott McLarty, was also in attendance, the night was about celebrating the past first, before moving on to the future.
“Some of the students joked with me over the last couple of weeks and said, ‘Mr. Sciuto, are you going to get a diploma, too? You are graduating with us,’” said Sciuto, who was elated to announce the graduating class’ 100% college attendance rate. “It’s been emotional for me over the last few weeks, and I have thought about how this school has changed over the eight years.”
Sciuto added, “I believe the core of the mission to serve, established by the Sisters of Providence [religious order], was continued and even strengthened during my time, and I’m proud of that.”
Change was forced upon Providence senior Nick Montijo, a star cross-country runner from crosstown Bellarmine-Jefferson High School, which closed its doors last summer.
Montijo found a home with Providence and became his adopted school’s first-ever CIF State Meet qualifier in November.
“I was really scared at first to transfer to a school that was way bigger than Bell-Jeff,” said Montijo, who plans to attend UC Merced. “The first day I was here, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ with my personality, I’m never going to fit in here. I didn’t think I’d make friends, but a lot of people instantly took me in and I’m so grateful.”
That sense of a close-knit community was displayed a few times throughout the nearly two-hour ceremony, including when the school’s first valedictorian, Carol Lex Tanner from the class of 1959, presented this year’s valedictorian, Angela Minasyan, with a medal.
Minasyan’s eight-minute speech highlighted a different sort of mettle, one in which a person’s biggest adversary is their own thought process.
“Our mind is the most powerful force we will face,” said Minasyan, who is expected to head to UCLA after achieving a school-best 4.6 weighted grade-point average. “It will tell us lies. It will tell us we can’t do that, we’re not meant for that, we’re not good enough for that, we can’t go on anymore [and] we just don’t have the energy.”
She added, “We must thank it for its opinion and continue on … the only locked doors are in your mind.”
Minasyan was one of several students recognized Saturday.
Natalia Dubon, who plans to attend UC Santa Barbara, was named the class salutatorian, while West Point-committed Conrad Davis and UCLA-bound Ryan Narisma were each presented with the Mother Joseph Award, given to students who demonstrate service and loyalty to the school.
Olivia Hope, who intends to head to the University of Oregon, was presented with the school’s Spirit Award, while Stephanie Ko, who plans to attend CSU Long Beach, was honored with the Christian Service Award.
“For four years of my life, I have been preparing myself for this and I’ve wanted to make my family proud,” said senior Ariel Gordillo after the ceremony. She is expected to attend Mount St. Mary’s in the fall.
“I was nervous at first today, but being there with my class, seeing everyone else nervous and excited, it gave me a feeling that going forward everything is going to be fine,” she added.