Reflecting on their high school years

Before the pandemonium of commencement week—which culminated last night with graduation—Claremont and San Antonio high school seniors took a moment from gazing toward their futures for a quick look back.

Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” and James Taylor’s “Lonesome Road” set the tone as students gathered together last Sunday for the annual Baccalaureate celebration, held at the Claremont United Church of Christ. Sponsored by the Claremont Interfaith Council in conjunction with the graduating seniors themselves, the event represented a hiatus from yearbook signing, grad-trip planning and college preparations.

“It is a reflective time on what these last 4 years has meant to them,” said Mary Jean Neault of the Claremont Interfaith Council. “It sets the tone for graduation.”

Each student in Sunday’s ceremony provided their own personal response to that sentiment, whether through song, speech or spoken word. Seniors selected the lineup for the multi-disciplinary service after 3 days of auditions.  

Among the performances and flashbacks chosen—about a dozen in all, played out in front of a packed audience—Alyssa Tepper lent her voice to Carrie Underwood’s Temporary Home, Ibrahim Gsibat presented a poised thank you to those in the Claremont community who have provided him with a diverse-rich upbringing, and Angel Ku provided a humorous, yet sincere commentary on his high school experience.

Zaina Goggins provided a moving tribute, drawing laughs and chills alike with her original spoken word, “Who Knew”.

“Who knew that we’d change from who we were to who we are or that we possessed the power to get this far,” Zaina recited. “We envisioned caps, gowns, tissues and tears, a moment without regret and limits for fears, so while our hearts remind us, while our minds tell us that childhood is through, my heart tells me that these thoughts are still untrue…high school is just the start of our incomprehensible journey.”

Soon, these seniors will be making their way to schools and careers across the country, leaving Claremont behind—if only physically. Eva Landsberg maintains her education at CHS is coming along for the ride as she travels to Yale University this fall. Eva will pursue a major in history and plans to pursue a career in law.

“CHS has prepared me extremely well,” Eva shared. “As part of the International Baccalaureate program, I learned how to do research, debate and speak with adults. It’s helped me get ready for what’s next.”

Friend Michaela Moss—who joined Eva and other pals in a sung rendition of the Jewish prayer “Hashkiveinu”—added that her education at CHS has gone beyond the classroom. Through an elective photography class, Michaela had the opportunity to display her artwork throughout the community, including a display at Some Crust Bakery. While she has appreciated the ability to develop her hobby, Michaela says it’s the friendships she has forged at CHS through extracurricular activities and beyond that she will miss the most when she leaves Claremont for Berkeley this fall.

“At Claremont you can be a part of all different groups,” she said. “You aren’t limited to just your own social group. We are all close.”

The collaboration displayed in Sunday’s tribute proved that to be true—in the stomp-and-clap rhythm classmates provided for classmate Kristiane Bizkarra’s a cappella performance, in the tears and hugs shared by younger classmen and the graduating seniors after the Chamber Choir’s tribute to the Class of 2013.

While Eva, Michaela and friend Jamie Borer admit the tears have been flowing leading up to graduation, they lovingly hold on to the past 4 years of fond memories as they take the next step forward. As classmate Jahnavi Curlin reminded them during her Baccalaureate speech, it’s not the destination, but the joys of the journey.

Visit for pictures of yesterday’s graduation ceremony, to be included in the Friday, June 21 edition of the COURIER.

—Beth Hartnett



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