Jack Cantin honored as Santa Barbara recognized Class of 2019
Kim Cantin has said the phrase over and over again, and perhaps it has never been more true.
“If you’re going to have something bad happen, Santa Barbara is a great place because the people are so kind,” Ms. Cantin said.
Ms. Cantin and her daughter, Lauren, attended the Santa Barbara High graduation ceremony Wednesday night with heavy hearts.
“This is one of the harder things I’ve had to do because he’s not here and he loved all these kids,” Ms. Cantin said of her son Jack, who was a victim of the Montecito debris flow in January 2018.
“I wanted to be here,” she said. “Jack’s friends and really the whole community has been amazingly supportive. I just think Jack got an early admission to heaven and I know he’s probably around and checking it all out. I love these kids and I’m just so grateful of the community.”
On the caps of several students were Star Wars-themed emblems in Jack’s honor. Ms. Cantin said they were made by graduate Grant Bennett after the debris flow and she took the extra to the school a few weeks ago.
“When I drive around town and I see them on some cars, it just warms my heart,” she said.
Ms. Cantin, who helps out at the school, said that senior Tobias Cole comes to give her a hug every chance he gets.
“It just feels like a little bit of a Jack hug,” she said.
“I wouldn’t have missed it,” she said. “It was so beautifully done.”
Linnea Mendoza, who Ms. Cantin said was Jack’s favorite teacher, shared that when Jack left her class after sophomore year, he was the most special student she ever had. She was convinced he would change the world.
“A grand statement for a grand student,” she said.
His humor, empathy, integrity and service to others set him apart.
“Jack’s legacy should not be defined by how he died, but how he lived,” she said. “We honor Jack tonight among his classmates. I am confident Jack is looking down on this evening’s celebration happy and overjoyed for all of you.
“Jack wasn’t afforded time on this Earth to change the world, but each one of you has the power and the choice to carry his spirit forward and to make a positive contribution in his honor.”
Ellie Chenoweth and Francisco Casmali Lopez then presented the Cantin’s with Jack’s diploma.
Along with Jack, a total of 447 seniors crossed the stage for the graduation ceremony at the Santa Barbara Bowl — the alternate site for the Dons’ graduation as construction at Peabody Stadium continues. As the students entered the venue sporting the olive cap and gowns, they walked across the stage drawing hoots and hollers from the near capacity crowd.
Santa Barbara High Principal Elise Simmons offered advice on what truly makes people happy, which includes positive relationships, meaningful work, positive thinking, and a sense of gratitude. She then shared her gratitude toward the Class of 2019 and being in front of thousands of families and friends to celebrate the graduates – which were the first group of seniors to go through the school for four years during her tenure.
“Happiness is a journey,” she said. “I am confident that you will all travel the journey in search of happiness and you will find what you need.”
Building off her senior quote, which was inspired by the Rolling Stones, Dr. Simmons said. “But if you try some time, you just might find you get what you need.”
Also offering remarks were Andrea Gonzalez, senior class president, Elvis Pagano and Jennifer Quito Alvarez.
Before the students were recognized, four veterans received their long-awaited diplomas. They were: John Robert Blomstrand, Class of 1962; Jack Calderon, Class of 1952; Henry Bernard Pico, Class of 1940; and Margario “Mugs” Delgadillo, Class of 1949.
Mr. Delgadillo received a huge ovation. Acknowledging the crowd, he then gave a salute before taking his seat.
With nearly 450 students having their names called – the group of graduates seated in front of the stage did all they could to pass the time. As the students cheered for one another, a few tried to get the group to start the wave. After the first few dozen names were called, one student pulled out a beach ball that was hit back and forth before being taken away. A second beach ball would come out a time later, only to be taken again.
As Cary Matsuoka accepted the class, many students tossed their caps to the air. Some were scramming as Dr. Matsuoka asked them to move their tassels.