Grade 8 graduation celebrates the Class of 2022

Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School celebrated the Class of 2022 during the school’s 72nd Annual Commencement Exercises on June 3.

In their light blue and dark blue robes, the 33 members of the graduating class gathered together before family and friends on the Lower Terrace. Ireland Harrington offered the opening prayer, and student speakers William Leatherberry and Jayla Ballesteros shared reflections of their Catalina journey.

William, a lifer, recounted some of his favorite memories from PreKindergarten through Grade 8, such as playing with the class hamster and taking overnight trips to Gold Country and Washington, D.C. “Throughout these years I have built strong friendships and lifelong memories,” he said. “… Santa Catalina will forever be a second home where I learned important life lessons. I will always remain a Santa Catalina cougar in my heart.”

Jayla expressed gratitude for the ways Santa Catalina prepared her and her classmates both academically and socially. “I am so thankful that I had the privilege of attending this school. It molded me into the person that I am today. A person who is thriving, who is caring, and who is compassionate,” she said. She expressed gratitude for her teachers and her classmates. “I have learned so much from the people in this class, and I don't think that I would be the same person that I am without them.”

Athletic Director Paul Elliott was the day’s Commencement speaker. He addressed the graduates privately before approaching the podium to give his official speech. Coach Elliott talked about the relationships he built with the students and the relationships they built with each other. He praised them for their kindness, their leadership, their values, and their gusto in seizing opportunities. Finally, he offered them some advice: “We can’t take the fear away. You might have to learn to do it scared. But be true to yourselves, stand up for your rights, stand up for the rights of all others, continue to grow, and become the persons you are meant to be. Go and light the world on fire.”

After the students came forward to receive their diplomas, and before Grady Roth closed the ceremony with a benediction, the graduates gathered together on the red stone steps as teachers Bri Slama ’07, Katie Gaggini, and Lydia Mansour sang “May the Road Rise to Meet You.” It was a beautiful end to a beautiful journey.

Congratulations to the Class of 2022!

See the photos.

Watch the full ceremony.

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