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Newport-Mesa’s phoenixes fly to the future for Cloud Campus’ first graduation

Principal Dr. Mike Sciacca, speaking in a video for the graduation.
(Screenshots from video courtesy Annette Franco / Newport-Mesa Unified School District)

Thirty of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s Cloud Campus phoenixes flew the digital coop on Wednesday as its inaugural graduating class said their goodbyes and looked ahead to their futures lying just beyond their computer screens and homes.

“Cloud Campus graduates, you have all undoubtedly experienced the most unique senior year imaginable,” said Principal Mike Sciacca in his opening remarks. “I would be surprised if this was the senior year you envisioned when you first began your high school journey.”

By email, he added, “I am so impressed with the resilience each of you has shown over this past year. You have successfully managed the new challenges brought forward by the pandemic on top of the typical challenges a student faces senior year.”

Student Elisabeth Leiby gives the welcome message in a video for the graduation.
Student Elisabeth Leiby gives the welcome message in a video for the graduation.
(Screenshots from video courtesy Annette Franco / Newport-Mesa Unified School District)

“You have persevered through constant change. As you all venture off to pursue the next chapter in your life, do not forget the important lesson this past year has taught us all: you are capable of more than you might think,” said Sciacca. “I am very proud of you, inaugural Cloud Campus graduating class of 2021! Enjoy the journey.”

Elisabeth Leiby, the associated student body’s vice president, opened the commencement video and senior speaker Claudia Wood also offered her remarks and her congratulations to her peers.

District trustees voted in April to continue the 100% online virtual campus for grades TK-12 through the next school year, arguing that it will provide an online option for parents and students that are still hesitant to return to classes in-person.

Claudia Wood, delivering the senior address.
(Screenshots from video courtesy Annette Franco / Newport-Mesa Unified School District)

About 1,700 pupils were estimated by officials to attend the Cloud Campus, including some 550 secondary students.

The ceremony Wednesday was much like last year’s virtual commencements with prerecorded speeches and Sciacca said that families were able to submit a dedication video if they chose to.

Teachers also said their goodbyes and offered their congratulations to graduating seniors in the 18-minute-long video.

Natalia Garcia is waving in a video for the graduation.
(Screenshots from video courtesy Annette Franco / Newport-Mesa Unified School District)

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