Despite another unorthodox year, Arcadia schools set out to celebrate students taking the next steps in life in a more traditional way, with fifth graders who are moving to junior high, eighth graders heading to high school and seniors embarking on their next chapter. This is how area schools celebrated the class of 2021.
Arcadia High held its second annual graduation parade on May 27. Two hundred seniors decorated their cars and headed to the Hopi Elementary parking lot to receive congratulations from family members and the community. Student Government member Lily Ashworth was the grand marshal, and a senior sang the National Anthem.
Graduation took place on May 29 at Salt River Fields with limited seating, and parents and friends greeting seniors with all the pomp and circumstance they could muster. Afterward, the graduating class headed to their own celebration at Castles N’ Coasters, hosted by the Arcadia High PTO.
Seniors were able to celebrate with their parents at the 73rd annual commencement ceremony on May 22. Brophy and Xavier seniors also held their prom later in the evening. Both events were held on campus.
“Having an in-person graduation was the perfect way to celebrate our class’s success over the past four years,” senior Henry Palmer said. “Every kid dreams of walking down the aisle at graduation, tossing their cap into the air as they melt into a sea of cheers, and being able to share this pivotal life moment with our friends and family. Doing this in-person made it that much sweeter.”
Christ Lutheran School
CLS was ecstatic to be able to hold an in-person ceremony this year. Eighth-graders gathered for a ceremony on May 22.
Student Tabitha Sywak, who has attended CLS since she was a preschooler, said, “In-person graduation is so important. It’s our last chance to be together, to see the excited and sad faces of those who are leaving. To see how much students have grown since the first day you met them.”
Hopi sent their fifth-graders off in style with a drive-through celebration. They also participated in an annual staff-student kickball game and the traditional “clap out,” where the whole school lines the halls as fifth-graders walk through one final time.
“I am excited for our fifth graders to move on to middle school,” said Principal Tamara Jagodzinski. “They are ready to take on this next chapter in their lives. We are sad to see them go but are so excited to see what the future has in store for them!”
Families at Ingleside were gifted with yard signs to flaunt their graduating eighth-graders. On May 26, a drive-through parade was held to continue the celebration. Students decorated their family vehicles while the community gathered, and shouts of “congratulations!’ were heard from near and far. After the parade, students headed back to campus for their Year End Party. This year’s theme was Out of This World – graduates were treated to live music, games, food and lots of fun to cap off their last year before high school.
Phoenix Country Day School
This year, senior graduation will look much like the traditional, in-person ceremony the school has held for the past 60 years, but with wellness protocols in place. The graduation will happen on June 10.
“The most important part about having in-person graduation this year – especially for the small PCDS community – is that we lost a sense of community and togetherness with online classes. Having in-person graduation is having a community and family of people to move on with – not just shutting your laptop at the end of the year,” senior Bennett Montrose said.
Veritas held their eighth-grade promotion and senior commencement on May 21 and 22 at Camelback Bible Church, with parents, staff and students coming together to celebrate in person. Before the official ceremony, graduates were honored with a senior tribute night.
“This honoring is set aside for the students, their parents and teachers. It is an intimate moment of celebration in which each student is extolled for his or her virtues. The ones presenting the tribute speeches are those teachers or coaches who know the student most fully and who give the tribute as a gift to the student and his or her family,” parent Ginny Cardenas said.
On the last day of school, May 21, seniors walked the halls of Veritas for the final time with their fellow graduates. After the ceremony, they spent senior grad night at MacDonald Farm.
Eighth graders were treated to a luncheon to welcome them to their first year of high school.
On Monday, May 10, the Baccalaureate Mass was held at St. Francis Xavier, with only graduates and parents attending. At this event, 31 Gold Keys were presented. This reception honors alumnae mothers and their graduating daughters with flowers in a vase etched with the Xavier crest, for the moms, and a golden key charm for the daughters.
On May 15, Xavier seniors received their diplomas. The commencement was held at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, where students, parents and faculty were all able to attend. The ceremony was also live-streamed in Xavier’s Performing Arts Center. Of the 261 seniors who graduated, 112 also received an associate degree from Rio Salado College as part of Xavier’s dual enrollment program.
Congratulations to these and all other Arcadia area schools!