'This is our time, and we will define it'

As the 700 members of the Crescenta Valley High School senior class lined up Thursday at Stengel Field to receive their diplomas, the memories started flying.

Some pertained to academic accomplishments.

“I had one of the hardest English teachers in the whole school, and I got an A in the class,” Stephanie Castricone, 18, said. “I had to read over and over and over again what she assigned us. When we had a 10-page research paper due, I revised it for two weeks straight.”

Others, not so much.

“I think my favorite high school memory was one day at snack we had a huge water bottle fight,” Wyatt Van Dyck, 18, said. “There were water bottles flying left and right all over our main quad….They tried to stop us, but there were like 3,000 kids versus 10 administrators so they really couldn’t do anything.”

But once the reminiscing was done, the graduates said they were ready to focus on futures filled with college, work and family.

“I am definitely excited,” Vivian Safarian said.

Presiding over her first commencement as Crescenta Valley High School principal, Michelle Doll commended the students for leading the school to success on a statewide and national stage.

She paid special recognition to valedictorian Samuel Kim, who graduated with a 4.55 grade-point average and will start at Princeton University in the fall, as well as members of the school’s athletic teams, arts programs and Science and Medicine Academy.

Doll also noted that the class had contributed a total of 60,000 hours of volunteer work in the local community.

“You have demonstrated that ability and persistence can overcome any obstacle,” Doll said. “You have also learned that your success is due to the many who sit alongside of you today on this field and in the stands.”

It is not the facts and figures that students learn in high school that will be so critical to their future, said senior speaker Varun Bhadha, but rather learning how to learn. That tool will carry them through college and beyond, he said.

The members of the Class of 2011 will have their choice of significant social and economic problems to solve, said senior speaker Jake Stanley.

“Every generation has its greatest challenge,” Stanley said. “The baby boomers conquered racism and social inequality in the 1960s and ’70s. Decades later, Generation X changed the face of global communication … with the Internet boom. As we stand here on the brink of our own futures, it is not easy to be courageous.”

But he added that they were up to the task.

“This is our time, and we will define it.”

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