“This most unique graduation ceremony in the 103-year-old history of Carpinteria High School.”
That’s how Carpinteria Unified School District Superintendent Diana Rigby began her speech congratulating the Carpinteria High Class of 2020 — and they could not have been any more accurate.
Due to COVID-19 canceling normal graduation ceremonies, Carpinteria High had to make some adjustments to its celebration, which was held last Thursday.
For one, Carpinteria combined its graduation ceremony with Rincon High, a continuation high school for the Carpinteria Unified School District.
Additionally, the parking lot, where the ceremony was held, was changed to make sure each family had one reserved spot.
Despite the change in plans, there was no lack of smiles from the nearly 150 families who attended and celebrated.
“I know it’s not the traditional graduation ceremony in the stadium you expected nor deserved, but it will be talked about forever,” Ms. Rigby said.
Students were also able to walk through a makeshift stage to receive their diplomas, picture and flowers.
Each vehicle in the parking lot was decorated brightly, whether it be with balloons or bold writing on the windshields, and students could be seen donning red caps and gowns from the cars.
Though loud cheers and claps are usually the norm in such events, the sound of horns honking from cars resonated the most for the Class of 2020.
So much so, even Carpinteria Principal Gerardo Cornejo encouraged the bright noise.
“We can’t say give everybody a big round of applause, so let’s give one big, long car horn and let everybody hear the Class of 2020,” Mr. Cornejo said with a smile.
Once the honking stopped, Mr. Cornejo began his speech with nothing but love for the local community and its ability to come together even amidst a global pandemic.
“Give Carpinteria a pandemic, and this is what we can do,” Mr. Cornejo said. “Just imagine what else we can do if we can work together as a community and make this a better place than what it is today.”
While most graduating seniors use their last few months to make memories through such events as prom and try to relax before moving onto the next stage of their life, the Class of 2020 did not have such luck.
In his speech, Mr. Cornejo acknowledged that many graduating seniors had to assume the responsibilities of adults to help their families make ends meet in some cases.
Although difficult, the circumstances these seniors went through ultimately made them “more than prepared to face life.”
“You are destined to accomplish great things in life, you have what it takes, and never give up your dreams, especially never let someone take your dreams away from you,” Mr. Cornejo said.
He also reminded seniors that the tri-tip barbecue in their honor is still coming as soon as it can.
“It was scheduled for March 17, but we will have that barbecue … That is a promise,” Mr. Cornejo said.
Valedictorian Victor Rinaldi also delivered a speech to congratulate his fellow seniors for their hard work and accomplishments.
During his speech, Victor also touched on how resilient the Class of 2020 is and just how prepared they will be in the next stage because of it.
“I know that if our class has made it here today through a pandemic and a fire (Thomas Fire) burning down the hill right behind me, then I know this class has what it takes to handle whatever path we choose no matter what life throws at them,” Victor said.