By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
The Palisades Charter High School Class of 2020 made history June 4 with the first-ever virtual commencement ceremony—complete with a bevy of guest appearances by local celebrities tied to the school and community.
The two-hour graduation, which went online due to campus closures and COVID-19, has amassed more than 10,000 views for the roughly 700 graduating Pali High students.
“They will be the only senior class in history to party and dine while at graduation,” John Rauschuber, government teacher, senior class advisor and parent of a senior wrote on the school’s website in advance of the evening.
Before the ceremony began, Pali High Principal and Executive Director Dr. Pamela Magee gave an address to give context to this graduation in light of recent events, including the pandemic and the death of George Floyd.
“Just as we are struggling to deal with the impact of a global pandemic that is disproportionately impacting communities of color, we now mourn the killing of George Floyd and far too many black Americans who have lost their lives to police violence and racism,” Magee shared. “There are no words to express the pain, the heartbreak, the disappointment, the anger that we all feel in this moment.”
The ceremony then kicked off with Nick Melvoin, LAUSD board member, sharing a message, followed by an extensive montage of the students and high school memories.
Next, Hunter Barnett, Zachary Lin and Fiona Aular Oloe sang the national anthem, directed by Jaco Wong. Laney Chao, associate student body president, directed the Pledge of Allegiance and a multilingual welcome by students in 16 different languages.
Pali High graduate J.J. Abrams joined the ceremony as a guest speaker. Senior Class President Elisa Kim gave the welcoming address, and later, valedictorian Miles Partain presented.
Magee spoke on behalf of the school, telling the Class of 2020 what a privilege it is to share virtually in their graduation and how she looks forward to celebrating in-person when they are safely able to do so.
Many successful Pali High graduates and former community members from a variety of professional fields chimed in with words of encouragement, advice and congratulations to the unique 2020 graduating class.
“Trust yourself, trust those that believe in you and make good choices,” guest speaker Greg Bonnan, creator of “Baywatch,” shared with the class. “Those three things will never fail you.”
More guest speakers included Jeff Bridges, Jeanie Buss, Will Ferrell, Amy Gumenick, Nina Jacobson, Steve Kerr, James Kwon, Sam Lagana, Sugar Ray Leonard and Honorary Mayor of the Palisades Billy Crystal.
“I’m sorry for all of these virtual graduations but you know what, you’re not virtual people, you’re very real and you’re very important,” Crystal said during the ceremony, “and I look forward to seeing what you’re going to accomplish.”
Other appearances included Abel Pacheko, Jay Schroeder, Randy Stoklos, Evan Spiegel, Augie Sylk, will.i.am, Rich Wilken and Gary Wilson.
Since all of the final marks were not in, Dr. Chris Lee, assistant principal, shared the candidates for graduation and a roll call of images of the Class of 2020 before the video concluded.
Pali High graduates told the Palisadian-Post the virtual graduation turned out to be more fun than expected and said they enjoyed seeing themselves in the videos. One student shared they did the best job they could do under the circumstances.
Teachers Nancy Fracchiolla and Malia Jakus were credited with tremendous efforts and collaboration to bring the virtual graduation to fruition, according to Rauschuber, giving students access to the entire graduation for eternity.
Click here to view the ceremony.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.