June 16, 2003

IT'S GRADUATION TIME, and here in Sunol that means a new crop of 8th graders are leaving the Sunol Glen nest for high school. The Commencement Ceremony Thursday honored the Class of 2003:
Madeline Brazil, Michael Carter, Kevin Foley, Sarah Gray, David Ingebretsen, Steven Jones, Calvin Kuntze, Kai Nomellini, Jordan Phibbs, Theodore Stromberg, Kathryn Surles, Sarae Van Dyke, Fauna Vargas, Joshua Whitfield, and Galen Willett. Congratulations to another fabulous Sunol Glen graduating class.

The class looked to the "Lord of the Rings" by J. R. R. Tolkien for its motto: "All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost, The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by frost." Wise words with which to enter high school. Green Day's "The Time of Your Life" served as their theme song.

The commencement speakers chosen by the class for their special care and help were Lorri Vargas and Brad Taylor. Lorri is the school's Technology Coordinator and has been involved here for many years as a parent and staff member. Brad is the head of Sunol Glen's Maintenance department and he has shown in three brief years that he is one dedicated guy. Both Lorri and Brad are all-around favorites with students, staff and parents.

Lorri and Brad teamed up for the commencement address, and offered the students some sound advice: Work hard now to build the framework for a good adult life, with career opportunities and a secure future. "You have one thing your parents, teachers and I don't have," Brad told them, "and that's your youth." It's all there in front of you youngsters, and along with Lorri and Brad, we all bid you use it wisely.

Katie and Sarae started off the commencement activities. Katie led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Sarae, along with Sarah, led the "Star Spangled Banner." The members of the Class of 2003 participated throughout the program, offering a welcome, class history, class future, and a fond farewell.

The class gift of 17 trees - one for each of them and one each for Superintendent-Principal Diane Everett and 8th grade teacher Laura Dennis - was presented by Madeline and Michael. The students dug the holes and planted the trees that will grace the school grounds for seasons to come. Everyone sends a colossal thank-you to Lisa Arnold Nursery for generously donating the trees. The graduates also gave special gifts to members of their families.

Bob Foster and Guin Van Dyke represented the school's Board of Trustees, offering congratulations to the graduates, and then, with help from Laura Dennis, gave out the coveted sheepskins. Each of the three has a commencement of his or her own to celebrate this year: Bob's son Patrick graduated from Foothill High School on Friday, Guin's is Sunol graduate Sarae's mom, and Laura is heading for Foothill herself after 13 years of preparing her students for that move. She'll be taking over for retiring history teacher Larry Boston.

In a heartfelt farewell to Laura, Diane Everett recalled her first graduation ceremony at Sunol Glen 12 years ago, and how Laura gave her a quick course of "Graduation 101." "Next year will be my first graduation without her," Diane said, "and I'm really going to miss her!" As will we all.

Diane also had warm words of appreciation for the students, their parents and the rest of the staff, and announced the recipient of the staff scholarship, given each year to a high school senior who graduated from Sunol Glen. The winner this year is Ryan Hall, whose name appeared regularly in the honor roll lists in this column. Miki Whitfield, mother of graduate Josh and a full-time Sunol Glen staff member, presented the award for best attendance to Calvin Kuntz, who boasts the incredible record of no absences in the past three school years, and a total of five in his entire nine years at Sunol Glen.

The graduates also expressed their gratitude to the 7th grade class for the reception following graduation, the Parent Steering Committee for the commencement itself and the Medieval Times themed dance that night, the school staff for their encouragement and support, and Patty Lessard for her services as sign language interpreter. Here's to Sunol Glen's Class of 2003 and all of you who inspired, guided, served and loved them!

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