'We're all going to bigger and better things'

Minutes before graduating, seniors at Clark Magnet High School took pictures and adjusted one another’s green caps and tassels before lining up.

Among those was Sayonika Mohanta, 18, who was named the class salutatorian for earning a 4.47 grade-point average. She also volunteered more than 100 hours in her four years at Clark, and will attend UCLA in the fall to study bioengineering.

She felt mixed emotions about graduating and moving on.

“Of course I’m sad, but I’m proud I can share this with all my friends I’ve known for four years,” she said. “We’re all going to bigger and better things. Just getting to this point is a great achievement for us.”

Andrea Castillo, one of the five valedictorian candidates, earned the highest grade-point average in her class with a 4.50.

Seven seniors stood out of the nearly 250 graduates for exceeding the required 220 credits by taking 70 to 85 extra credits, the latter totaling a year and a half of extra high school work.

The four senior class officers, Nare Israelyan, Teresa Garcia, Dvin Badalzadeh and John Barbar, presented the school with the class gift — a school mascot costume it never had. The black panther walked into the school’s amphitheater wearing green shorts and a white T-shirt sporting his name “Andy” and his number, 11.

Senior Rafik Mughnetsyan, 17, said Clark gave him opportunities to think about his future.

“It helped me a lot with my life. I think I will always remember Clark,” he said.

In the fall, Rafik plans to study chemistry at UC Irvine to become a surgeon.

Principal Doug Dall spoke of Clark Magnet High School’s namesake, Anderson W. Clark, in his graduation speech, during which he contemplated what it means to do the right thing as he referred to the way Clark lived.

Clark, who died in La Crescenta in 1938, helped underserved children in Omaha, became an advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt and volunteered with the Red Cross before moving to Glendale and assisting with local charities here in the 1920s and 1930s.

Dall was met with applause when he spoke of Clark Magnet High School as a California academic achievement award winner for the fourth year in a row and one of two out of the state’s 2,400 secondary schools to earn both the Blue Ribbon and academic achievement awards.

“It’s a superior school,” said Debbie Bacino, the aunt of senior Olivia Vickson.

Bacino said Olivia was accepted to four colleges and will attend Cal State Northridge, where she will study to become a writer.

“They really prepared her,” Bacino said.

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