On a day that most certainly reflected ELO’s lyrics “sun is shinin, in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight, it’s stopped rainin’ everybody’s everybody’s in a play, and don’t you know it’s a beautiful new day,” family and friends of 372 soon to be graduates gathered to reminisce and celebrate Class of 2018’s baccalaureate at South Pasadena High School auditorium. With the late afternoon sunlight beaming in behind them, the graduates, clad in their graduation finery, marched two by two down the aisles to the strains of “pomp and circumstance” to take their seats in front.
Class Vice President Nick Song welcomed the crowd and led the pledge of allegiance which was followed by a lighthearted and nostalgic speech called “We Audi” by Scott Na. Next was a musical interlude called Medley of Eternal Sunshine & Slow Motion sung by Christy Yu, accompanied on guitar by Daniel Chun.
Adam Hamden gave a very thoughtful speech entitled “The Road Most Traveled” where he spoke poignantly about learning from those who have gone before and appreciating those beside us as we walk not necessarily the road “less traveled” but rather “most traveled” and enjoy the journey.
In what was the emotional highlight of the evening, Sophie Reynolds sang an original piece she wrote called “California”. Known for her melodic, melancholy vocals, Reynolds sang about the beauty of Southern California and how it would always call her home. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
The final student speaker was Cole Cahill who reminisced about all things South Pas High and elicited a lot of laughter during his speech, “The Things I Learned in High School” and quoted Andy from The Office who said, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”
Congresswoman Judy Chu was warmly and enthusiastically received by the seniors and audience with foot stomping and thunderous applause. Aside from being a nationally recognized advocate and congresswoman, Chu has always been a very strong presence here in South Pasadena. Having been raised in the San Gabriel Valley, it is clear the congresswoman loves her roots and the history here. She spoke passionately about her immigrant, working class parents and all the struggles she faced being a Chinese American woman to hold many of the offices she has held over the years, from Board of Education, Monterey Park City Council, Mayor of Monterey Park, California State Assemble and finally as the first Chinese American woman elected to the United States Congress in history.
Congresswoman Chu spoke eloquently of failures and the importance of learning from those experiences, offering Abraham Lincoln as an example citing several of his failures which eventually led him to becoming one of our greatest Presidents in history. She spoke of her own struggles and about the people who helped her on her way up; those she supported who later supported her. It was an inspiring and rousing speech that was very well received.
The dancers from Dance 3 offered up a playful dance wearing graduation robes set to “Sing Sing Sing.” The class then sang their Alma Mater and joyfully ran up the aisles to their chosen class song, “Mr. Blue Sky”. This is a class and generation who has seen its share of tumult, tragedy, innovation and joy; living in the moment was clearly a message repeated in all the speeches at baccalaureate, the farewell assembly and graduation. They seem keenly aware that tomorrow is not promised and their chosen song reflects the sentiment; “Mister Blue, you did it right, but soon comes mister night, creepin’ over, now his hand is on your shoulder. Never mind, I’ll remember you this, I’ll remember you this way.”