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Early College High grads reflect on losses, gains in 2020 and consider their futures

Early College High School's Class of 2020.
Early College High School’s class of 2020 was celebrated Monday during a virtual commencement ceremony held by school leaders.
(Screenshot by Sara Cardine)

“Let’s be honest — this is not how we thought our senior year would end.”

So began the remarks of Early College High School senior Madison Golshan, who addressed her graduating classmates Monday in a virtual commencement ceremony that accounts for one more entry on an ever-growing list of new normals.

Golshan highlighted beloved senior traditions — prom, senior sunrise, signing day — that fell by the wayside as the Costa Mesa school endured the coronavirus pandemic. But she quickly segued to more upbeat memories.

Early College High School senior Madison Golshan
Early College High School senior Madison Golshan addressed classmates Monday in a broadcast commencement ceremony for 49 members of the class of 2020.
(Screenshot by Sara Cardine)

She recalled the joy of attending school dances, the relief of finishing an especially difficult environmental-issues project and how classmates celebrated together when it was finished.

“We ran outside, and we danced in the rain. We were happy together — we are happy together,” she said. “Though we may be going our separate ways, we will always have the memories that we created here together.”

Honoring this year’s graduating seniors from high schools in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Laguna Beach and other parts of Orange County.

School and local leaders congratulated the class of 2020 in a prerecorded broadcast that featured individual class and family pictures of the soon-to-be graduates, with mentions of their plans for the future (Early College High typically sends 100% of graduates to two- or four-year colleges).

Early College High School graduate Kenny Ensastegui plans to study business at Cal State Fullerton in the fall.
(Screenshot by Sara Cardine)

Principal Dave Martinez steered away from mentioning the coronavirus pandemic and, instead, focused on celebrating the resilience of the graduating class and how it will someday benefit society.

“Forward, progressive thinkers and problem solvers are what this world needs,” Martinez said. “How we choose to use our knowledge, skills and passions toward the betterment of our communities will define who we are.”

Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) acknowledged the likely difficulties waiting for graduates in the outside world as they attempt to pay for college and find work in a down economy, but he expressed hope enough young people standing up for what’s right could make a difference.

Early College High School seniors
Photos of Early College High School seniors were run in a montage Monday during a virtual commencement ceremony for the class of 2020.
(Screenshot by Sara Cardine)

“You have the power to change our country for the better,” he said. “And I look forward to seeing the great change you will make in Orange County, in our great nation and around the world — congratulations to all of you.”

Newport-Mesa Unified School District Trustee Ashley Anderson conferred diplomas on the graduating class, instructing them to move the tassels on their mortarboard caps to the left. With that small gesture, the graduating class effectively ended their high school careers.

In closing remarks, Martinez encouraged the class of 2020 to see college as a starting point in a journey that will uncover their true purposes in life — making a positive impact in their families and communities — and to know they are never alone on that journey.

Early College High School Principal Dave Martinez
Early College High School Principal Dave Martinez addresses seniors Monday during a virtual commencement ceremony.
(Screenshot by Sara Cardine)

“Never think beyond today you are a former Early College High School student. You are going to be an Early College High School graduate. Today is not a goodbye but a so long for now.”

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