July 2020: A Historic Graduation Ceremony

  • 2020 Graduation Set

    2020 Graduation Set

  • Grossmont G with Gus Mask

    Grossmont G with Gus Mask

  • 2020 Valedictorian Alexander Elliott

    2020 Valedictorian Alexander Elliott

This year 454 seniors became part of an amazing group: 38,000 Foothiller graduates. For 99 years, Grossmont High School’s students and staff have taken great pride in the traditions surrounding graduation. The challenge this year was to honor those traditions in a socially distant way. 

First, through appointment, seniors were able to have a photo taken on the traditional castle stage which was set in the senior parking lot. Wearing their caps and gowns, driving up in cars accompanied by cheering family, and holding their diplomas, the moments were captured through a photograph taken by Boyd Anderson Photography.

The actual graduation ceremony was presented on June 10th at the Santee Drive In, via a video.  If you would like to view the video, you may log in at https://vimeo.com/427158242/3f152c3dac. (It begins with photos taken from Senior Awards Night, also celebrated in a socially distant setting.)

At the beginning of the ceremony, Principal Dan Barnes reflected on this historic moment: “Grossmont perseverance has been around for 99 years since the Spanish Influenza first hit our country. Our alumni have fought and died in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and more recently wars in the Middle East. Fifteen of our students and one teacher were sent to Japanese Internment Camps during WWII. Many survived the Great Depression. 

In all of these events, including our last 84 days in a pandemic, seeing our continued struggle as a nation with racism, and just recently the rioting in our local streets…our students, staff, and community continue to show the courage and resilience of “How Great It Is to BE Young and a Foothiller”.  As we celebrate your achievements tonight, I want to encourage you to make sure to take special pride in that tradition, continue to be proud, respectful, involved, disciplined, and most importantly…show empathy towards others in all that you do.”

During the celebration, the five retiring teachers were recognized for their decades of service to Grossmont: Frank Foggiano, Mike Holcomb, Gary Pennefather, Rob Ridgway, and Ray Webb. 

Since 1936, the graduating seniors have been led into the ceremony by students carrying the Daisy Chain, an 84-year tradition, created from the historic ivy and daisies. Obviously, this year there was no physical chain, but juniors were still honored. Led by Daisy Chain advisors Yvonne Vellone and Matt Flisher,  via email and a Zoom conference, the teaching staff selected 50 outstanding juniors on the basis of their school activities, scholarship, and citizenship; being selected is the highest honor awarded juniors. Each student received a personal phone call from a teacher to congratulate them on their selection

During the graduation ceremony, three outstanding seniors were recognized for their academic achievements: Valedictorian Alexander Elliott-4.805 gpa and Salutatorians Neil Mashruwala-4.780 gpa and Alexander Oleksyn-4.756 gpa.

In his Valedictorian speech, Alexander shared with his classmates “As much I’d love to continue talking about our time together, issues larger than ourselves need to be addressed….And I’m sure some of you have heard this before, but it’s worth repeating, ​it’s simply not enough to ​not be racist- w​e must be ​vehemently anti-racist​, so stop being silent​. Educate yourself, educate those around you, actively seek out ways to be an outlet of change and magnify the voices of those that are speaking up. Hell, even use this as an opportunity to start a dialogue with those around you.”

This year as in years past, 3 perpetual graduation trophies are awarded to seniors. The most prestigious service award given at graduation is the Norman Freeman Award, first given in 1953 as a memorial to Norman Freeman, ASB President, Class of 1947. The trophy is engraved “For the Grossmont student who has most strengthened democracy through participation and leadership in student government.” This year’s recipient, the 66th, is Jade Manuel.

Since 1927, two identical silver loving cup trophies have acknowledged one outstanding young woman and one outstanding young man. Each trophy is engraved with the names of the 91 previous recipients. Joining them this year are Mallory Smith and Diego Velarde.

In 1925, outstanding seniors were first recognized with a Circle G, which was the highest award then given to graduating seniors. In 2020, for the 94th year, 6 seniors were honored for their all-around excellence in academics, leadership, citizenship, and service: Rwzan Adwer, Lucie Cishugi, Dawwod George, Jaye La Bruno, Devin Provence, and  Maya Zimmer. Each student received a gold pin, a G enclosed in a circle, a reminder of the legacy binding GHS graduating seniors.

Since 1965, the Principal’s Letters of Commendations have been awarded to students who have demonstrated leadership in many areas. This year, Principal Dan Barnes recognized 17 students: Ivana Bivens, Jordyne Burnett, Gabriella Contreras, Mia Foster, Ghaith Ishaq, Ruby Lytle, Patricia Gonzalez Ochoa, Jaime Odom, Alexander Oleksyn, Judy Mohamad, Breann Pavich, Kiera Smeenge, Elizabeth Sweeten, Vivian Votel, Kailey Wilkens, Andrew Zeller, Cameron Zeller

&As Principal Dan Barnes shared with the graduates, “Certainly this has been one of the most challenging years in a long time for our nation, our school, our community, and this senior class, one that will never be forgotten by us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” You, the Class of 2020, will go on, you and your families have all faced disappointments, especially this spring, but we will soon see…that it was a finite moment that does not define who you are as an individual or as a class. ​Never give up that infinite hope. Continue to seek opportunities to change for the better, grow in knowledge and skill, and create a society that we can all be proud of…and then…let that, define who you are.

Appropriately, the graduation ceremony video ended with a visual display of each of the 454 graduates’ senior photographs labeled with their names. Then, led by Senior Class President Kiera Smeenge,  with a turning of their tassels, the Class of 2020 left GHS with unforgettable memories.

2020 Daisy Chain

  • Andie Akenson
  • Brian Alba
  • Murtadha Alrubaiee
  • Joseph Asaro
  • Heidi Babcock
  • Jaden Banawa
  • Nicole Basco
  • Sierra Bergeleen
  • Autumn Black
  • Kimberly Bond
  • Olivia Branan
  • Helaena Calimlim
  • Kurt Campbell
  • Ty Case
  • Cybele Castillo
  • Jessica Chammas
  • Nicholas Collantes
  • Madison Conrad
  • Abigail Crew
  • William DeGirolamo
  • Ethan Dilgard
  • Jeffrey Do
  • Abigail Dubrow
  • Lily Ehrenfeld
  • Grace Freeman
  • Jennifer Giovengo
  • Mclean Hall
  • Ariana Hamid
  • Olivia Hunter
  • Alexsandro Luna
  • Alissa Martin
  • Christopher Martinez
  • Madilyn Mayo
  • Caden McCulloch
  • Shelvy Millado
  • Madeline Minutelli
  • Damien Ochoa
  • Summer Oraha
  • Kassidy Patino
  • Toula Payan
  • Ximena Paz Arrevillaga
  • Eric Ramirez
  • Jazell Richardson
  • Alyssa Rosales
  • Grace Sachariason
  • Angel Soriano
  • Charles Sotelo
  • Carly Starkey
  • Evan Vasiliou
  • Olivia Wangler
  • Aurelia Willett
  • Cannon Zamora
  • Miles Zawadzki
  • Kyle Zoellner

©  Grossmont High School Museum :: Website by 422 Media