Crescenta Valley High seniors graduate with distinctions

Some came in leis, others wore medallions and sashes, while caps, tassels and gowns were colored light blue or navy.

Crescenta Valley High graduated 641 students during a ceremony on campus Wednesday afternoon that included a surprise valedictorian, speeches filled with optimism and dreams as well as highlights about the exploits of a celebrated 2018 class.


“Though we come from different backgrounds and families, they are our common interest today,” said Linda Junge, Crescenta Valley High’s principal, of the graduates. “They are our reason that we’re here today, and they are an impressive group of students.”


Members of the 2018 class helped earn 2015 California Gold Ribbon School honors, take home CIF Southern Section championships in football (2014-15 season) and girls’ basketball (2015-16), and recently earn a 2018 Comedy Sportz High School League Improv Madness title.

Junge also noted that graduating students had earned approximately $1.5 million in scholarships and grants, racking up 53,281 hours of community service.

Junge’s speech included a moment of laughter and suspense when she revealed that Richard Lee was the class valedictorian. The senior, who had a 4.64 grade-point average and is heading to USC as a neuroscience major, was presented a plaque for his accomplishments by Galileo, the robot built by the Crescenta Valley High robotics team.

One of the moments that drew the most applause was when Junge asked all graduates to stand. She then instructed students attending community colleges, vocational training or apprenticeships, taking a year off or going on a mission, heading into the workforce or enrolling in a four-year university to be seated.

The few students still standing were committing to the U.S. Armed Forces and drew a loud applause.

Overall, there were three student speakers, led by senior class president Anna Shim.

“Wow, it’s senior year already. How time flies?” Shim said as she read part of a poem. “It’s our last year in high school, so you’re not ready for goodbyes. College applications, prom and senioritis – yes, it’s real – you’ve learned hard resilience. These experiences are surreal.”

Senior Gene Kim gave his own take on “The Falcon Experience” and what helped him survive at Crescenta Valley High.

“I’d also like to thank Larry Page, Jimmy Wales and David Siminoff,” Kim said. “If you don’t know who those people are, they are the founders of Google, Wikipedia and (digital publishing company) Shmoop, respectively. Especially that David Siminoff, without him I don’t know how I would have read ‘Hamlet.’”

The senior address titled “To New Beginnings” was delivered by Sione Markarian.

“For four years, we have worn our school colors with utmost pride,” Markarian said. “It seems like only yesterday we were little freshmen lined up at the student store to buy our first CV spirit shirts. Now we stand here in our caps and gowns representing our Blue and Navy one last time. Graduation is no longer a distant event we look forward to in the midst of stressful testing. It is a reality that begins now on this field.”

Senior class secretary Kristina Kruegermann and treasurer Alec Derpetrossian presented both the senior motto and gift.

The motto from Barack Obama reads, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.”

As for the gift, the senior class donated a new scoreboard for the field, which Christine Benitez, associate principal, accepted and added, “We will look fondly at that scoreboard as we beat Arcadia.”

After 43 minutes of handing out diploma holders to all students from the first recipient, Shim, to the last, Taron Rostami, graduates threw their caps into the air before heading to the gym to receive their actual diplomas.

Glendale Unified board members Jennifer Freemon and Armina Gharpetian were in attendance as was Glendale Community College board member Tony Tartaglia.

Gharpetian’s niece Arlene Ovanessian was graduating, and the board member gave some advice to the class of 2018 before the ceremony.

“Whatever they decide to do with their lives, they need to really be kind to one another,” she said. “The kindness and respect for others goes a long, long way. The rest of it will fall into place.”

Wednesday was the conclusion of a few bittersweet days for La Crescenta resident and Crescenta Valley High father Jim Couch.

The 45-year Bellarmine-Jefferson High cross-country and track and field coach was in attendance Saturday at that school’s graduation in Burbank, which may very well be the last in the history of the institution, which is shuttering its doors this summer.

On Wednesday, Couch also saw his oldest daughter, who once attended Bell-Jeff, graduate as a star runner. Caitlyn Couch will be heading to San Diego State in the fall.

“It’s surreal, let me tell you,” Jim Couch said. “Yesterday, Caitlyn was 4 and now she’s graduating. It just goes so quickly. As a parent, you think you have all the time, but spend as much time as you can with your kids because they grow up so fast.”

One youngster thankful for his experience was Joe Suh, Associated Student Body president.

“It has been truly an amazing experience for me in high school,” said Suh, an All-Area second-team running back. “I got to meet a lot of friends that are going to be leaving soon, and I’m going to miss them. I had truly amazing experiences being on ASB and football. It’s been an honor.”