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A graduation like no other


This year, 410 seniors in the Class of 2021 became part of an amazing group: 38,000 Foothiller graduates. For 100 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 within COVID-19 protocols; amazingly, in-person Senior Awards, prom, and graduation events occurred on campus, thanks to the efforts of GHS’s dedicated staff and students.

The weekend before graduation, on June 5, seniors attended the prom — a prom like no other. Held on the east side of the iconic Castle, it was an amazing event. Something new was added this year with the addition of a 2021 Royalty Court. The court was selected online by the senior class: Sunshine Astourian, Jessica Chammas, Kimmy Bond, Grace Hafner, Karsen Carroll, Harrison Cox, Caden McCulloch, Blake Richardson, Robert Tucker, Lily Ehrenfeld. From this court, it was narrowed to two by attendees of the prom, who selected Lily Ehrenfeld and Kimmy Bond as 2021 Royalty.

The following Tuesday, June 8, graduation was held on campus.

At the beginning of the ceremony, principal Dan Barnes reflected on this historic moment.

“Grossmont perseverance has been around for 100 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 were sent to Japanese Internment Camps during WWII. Many survived the Great Depression,” he said. “In all of these events, including our last 15 months in this pandemic, with social and political turmoil, our students, staff, and community have shown the courage and resilience of how it’s great to be young and a Foothiller.”

During the celebration, five retiring staff members were recognized for their decades of service to Grossmont: Sue Phillips, Christie Jubenville, Sherrie Dixon, Mark Brosnan, and after 47 years of sharing his love of physics with thousands of Foothillers, Tom Eklund.

Since 1936, the graduating seniors have been led into the ceremony by students carrying the Daisy Chain, an 85-year tradition, created from the historic ivy still growing on campus and yellow daisies. Guided by Daisy Chain advisor 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.

During the graduation ceremony, several outstanding seniors were recognized for their academic achievements. Valedictorian Kimberly Bond has a 4.872 GPA and plans to attend Cornell University in the fall.

“Although these past 15 months may have been the most difficult of our lives, we have learned more than any standard year of high school could have taught us,” Bond said. “I know we will take this resilience and perseverance into the rest of our lives. … I hope we take the amazing memories we made throughout our time.”

The second valedictorian, Brian Alba has a 4.848 GPA and plans to attend UC Irvine in the fall.

“Our class is quite unprecedented. … Not only are we marking a century of Grossmont educational history, but we have also emerged triumphant in a battle against the unexpected. I admit it, this gaping abyss of the unknown has scared me witless. … Being here today proves we grew as people and persevered,” he said.

The committee also selected two salutatorians: McLane Hall, with a 4.813 GPA plans to attend Cal Poly SLO in the fall and Jeffrey Do, with a 4.813 GPA, plans to attend UC San Diego in the fall (Do chose not to give a speech).

McLane shared with his class, “I think when everyone heard school was shutting down, we all thought, ‘Awesome, two more weeks of spring break. Woo hoo!’ Little did we know ‘spring break’ would actually last over a year. I never thought I would actually say I miss school, but I did. All of us did.”

This year as in years past, three 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.” This year’s honoree is Kimmy Bond.

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 94 previous recipients. Joining them this year are Heidi Babcock and Ty Case.

In 1925, outstanding seniors were first recognized with a Circle G, which was the highest award then given to graduating seniors. In 2021, for the 96th year, five seniors were honored for their all-around excellence in academics, leadership, citizenship, and service: Shytiana Campbell, Shelvy Millado, Alyssa Rosales, Robert Tucker, and Lidasia Tull. 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 Barnes recognized 10 students: Autumn Black, Helaena Calimlim, Logan Carroll, Karsen Carroll, Nicholas Collantes, Grace Freeman, “McLane” Hall, Joilee Luna, Summer Oraha and Jazell Richardson.

Principal Barnes shared with the graduates, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.’ You, the Class of 2021, will go on, you and your families have all faced disappointments, especially in the past 15 months, but you will soon see that this finite moment 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.”

Led by Senior Class President Jessica Chammas, with a turning of their tassels, the historic Class of 2021 left GHS with unforgettable memories and the knowledge that they were a unique part of history, the 100th class to graduate from Grossmont High school.

The GHS Museum will be open Friday, July 9 from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and Saturday, July 17 from noon–3 p.m. Visit or contact at and 619-668-6140. Masks are required indoors on campus.

— Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the GHS Museum.

Source: La Mesa Currier

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