seniors looked resplendent in green Wednesday as they gathered to mark perhaps the biggest change of their young lives.
If they were caught up in the excitement of the moment and weren't aware of the seriousness of the transition, Rear Admiral Sean Pybus was there to remind them of it.
The keynote speaker, leader of Naval Special Warfare Command and father of graduate Alyssa Pybus, told them now “you are young men and women of standing in this great society. Welcome to the real world.”
The seniors graduated on the school's packed football field, in a two-hour ceremony that included speeches namechecking everyone from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss, and a remembrance of a late classmate, .
Bunker, 17, died nearly two years ago in an auto accident near the golf course. Principal Karl Mueller asked the crowd for a moment of silence when his name was read among those of his classmates. He said Bunker “remains with us in spirit.”
In another nice touch, a message from Cmdr. Michael Dowling, who is deployed on the USS Makin Island, was played over the loudspeaker for his daughter, senior Kaitlyn Dowling. He told her, “I love you, miss you and wish I could be here with you for this great event.”
The school webcast the graduation for relatives in the Navy like Dowling, and others who couldn't be in Coronado to see it.
Lila Gavares, Nicholas Andrews, William Funk and Elisa Reilly gave commencement speeches, reminiscing about times they've shared in the community, with each other and with teachers.
Gavares credited teacher Smoky Bayless with providing the lesson that people have “the unfortunate habit of savoring the experience more as they realize the expiration date.”
“I find myself noticing more and more things that I do not wish to let go of,” the senior class president said.
Geordan Shallen admitted to mixed emotions as his graduation neared.
“It's a little bittersweet,” he said. “Four years of your life are behind you.”
Commencement marks an ending to be sure, but Pybus told the graduates that much remains before them – acheivement, experience and responsibility.
“What you do matters. Never underestimate your worth to the world. We're trusting you to be good citizens, to be positive and to pay it forward,” he said.