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Corona del Mar High graduates still have each other with at-home graduation

Seven Corona Del Mar High students watch their graduation ceremony live on television.
Seven Corona del Mar High students watch their graduation ceremony live on television, from left, Zach Green, Jack Mehoffer, Dylan O’Hearn, Aidan Pyne, Mason Gecowets, Nicholas Rottler and Luke Sullivan, in Corona del Mar on Thursday
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

A living room is not a football field, but at least your closest friends can be at your side on a couch instead of scattered about on folding chairs separated by alphabetization.

Seven bright and good-natured graduating seniors from Corona del Mar High School, many wearing the glittering state championship rings they earned last fall as members of the Sea Kings’ football team, cheered and called out warm thoughts about their classmates and teachers as their faces flickered across the screen Thursday evening during a streaming video presentation that substituted for their traditional graduation ceremony.

The cozy party at Luke Sullivan’s house still had the core of a commencement ceremony — laughter, selfies and proud parents, only this time a few feet away in the kitchen instead of faraway bleachers.

“It kinda feels special, knowing we have something different,” said graduate Mason Gecowets.

In the video, coaches, teachers and student leaders offered words of praise and wisdom.

“Our class is filled with resilient, hard-working, compassionate, successful, genuine young adults. It is also filled with the leaders of tomorrow,” said student speaker Alex Ianni. “Whether an achievement we achieved or a tribulation we faced, one thing remained: We continue to stand together stronger and bolder than before.”

Then it was time for the main event, the reading of graduate names over the familiar “Pomp and Circumstance.”

“Hats on, you guys,” one of the boys called out.

Yearbook photos flashed on the screen with each name, and many students — who, the video stressed, will always be Sea Kings — augmented those traditional portraits with candids or brief video clips hamming it up in their sky-blue caps and gowns.

Many tossed their caps on the beach. Others jumped, in full regalia, in or out of pools or the harbor. A few waved to the camera with their pets — dogs mostly, but one duck made an appearance. One graduate popped out of the trunk of a car, another a portable toilet shack.

Zack Green’s video was the most poignant — showing a visit bearing “Congrats Grad” balloons to the grave of one of his best friends, Patrick “Patty” Turner, who died by suicide halfway through his sophomore year. Thursday would have been his graduation day, too.

The at-home ceremony wasn’t what Green initially wanted, but it wasn’t bad, and Patty was still with him, he said.

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Seven Corona del Mar High students stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of their graduation ceremony.
Seven Corona del Mar High students stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of their graduation ceremony live on television, from left, Zach Green, Jack Mehoffer, Dylan O’Hearn, Aidan Pyne, Mason Gecowets, Nicholas Rottler and Luke Sullivan, in Corona del Mar on Thursday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)


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