Smiling friends and family filed into the large gym waiting with anticipation for the senior class to boldly walk the aisle to the UCSD band playing, “Pomp and Circumstance.” Spirits were high at the 2016 UCSD Graduation Ceremony which was held Saturday, May 21st at 7pm.
The class of 2016 took seats in the corner opposite the band under a massive arch made of blue and gold balloons.
The ceremony started off with a few kind words from UCSD Superintendent John Conwell.
“Right up until your last day of classes, you displayed humility, empathy for others and courage,” Conwell remarked as he looked toward the seniors.
Salutatorian Liam Andersen presented a heart-felt and humorous speech to the crowd while Valedictorian Purevdulam “Onya” Enkhbat followed with an inspirational tale of how she began to master the English language over the course of her time in Unalaska.
Reanna Marquez introduced guest speakers Jim Wilson and Shawna Rudio who were hand-selected by the UCSD seniors.
Mr. Wilson preformed most of his speech downstage, directing kind words toward each graduate individually.
Ms. Rudio followed with a rousing speech peppered with songs that spanned from present day to the disco hit, “We Are Family," changing the refrain to, “I’ve got all my seniors with me!” The students rose to their feet and clapped to the beat while fellow speaker Wilson joined in on the singing.
Ms. Teri Morris then began the presentation of scholarships, which was followed by the student slideshow and student "thank you" videos.
Many seniors got quite creative with these short clips and presented gratitude while in unsuspecting places around town and performing various activities. A crowd-favorite was Darell Laforteza who wordlessly thanked the community with a simple close-up of his beaming face while he raced downhill via skateboard.
Following the video thank-yous, the students gathered massive bouquets of flowers that they hand-delivered to family and faculty.
John Conwell took the stage again to present diplomas to the Class of 2016. There was a steady roar of from the audience as each of the 28 seniors ceremoniously placed their tassels from the right side of their graduate caps to the left.
Guests stuck around for cake and punch after the ceremony while the graduates were surprised by fun and games at the PCR until the wee hours of the morning.
If you’d like to see the ceremony in it’s entirely, watch Monday, May 30th at 6pm. You can also check out the highlight reel of the event featured on a Flash! Unalaska this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8pm and 10pm.