Graduation Speech June 9, 2016

Good evening and welcome to all our families, honored guests, Roman Faculty, Staff, and to the Graduating Class of 2016 – our mighty Romans! I am Dr. Yoon-Fontamillas, proud principal, of Los Angeles High School.

To our graduates this evening: Congratulations on successfully completing your road through high school. You made it. You worked hard, you committed to your studies, and you earned your place in today’s ceremony. Tonight we celebrate you and your achievement. And with that, we also celebrate the “new” LA High that is thriving in the most exciting way.

At this time, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and thank the families and friends of our Roman students – you were their greatest support on this journey & we at LA High applaud you for your unrelenting effort to see these students succeed. And to our dedicated faculty and staff, each and every one of you made a difference in the lives of our students.  They would not be here without your commitment to their learning and growth.

Class of 2016, will you please join me in recognizing them for all their hard work? – Let’s please give them a big round of applause.

It’s been an exceptional year. This past April during our Open House: Festival of Learning – all our teachers, staff and students came together as ONE to showcase our strength as a school to the community at large. We demonstrated that truly, IT’S ALL HERE at LA High — excellent academic programs and extracurricular activities. We highlighted both the historical significance and a vision for the future.

During the evening, Los Angeles High School celebrated one of its most famous graduates from the1930s – by unveiling an inspiring mural of Ray Bradbury, a world-renowned novelist. The larger-than-life Bradbury mural is now a permanent fixture in the Library for which it is named after. This was a collaborative work with an esteemed local muralist, Richard Wyatt, and our very own student-artists. Additionally, jazz was performed for the first time by LA High Band; Roman OutKast dancers and International Dance group impressed us with their superb style and rhythmic moves; and outstanding science projects were on display completed by our Roman scientists.
There was also the grand ICAP (Integrated Community Arts Pathway) exhibit this year, and an extraordinary Documentary film called: A Portrait of the Romans produced by student film makers – a concerted effort in partnership with Hollywood Heart and Rabbit Hole Production. And of course, our mighty Roman Football team finished out a remarkable season this school year advancing to Division II: championship game, along with a spectacular athletic year for the Boys and Girls Swimming, Water Polo, Girls Softball, Boys Basketball, Soccer and Tennis, Track and field, cross country, and Inclusive Sports track team.
All of this success was matched with LA High Romans placing first in JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) Annual Invention Challenge, as well as Roman engineers heading off to Chicago to compete in the International Bridge Building Competition and placing in top categories for the MESA Prosthetic Arm Competition.

I point out all these achievements to remind you that not only are you part of the rich history of LA High School, but also a new narrative in the making and rebuilding of Rome. It is hard to believe that graduates have been accepting diplomas from LA High for 141 years. Generations of families have walked through the doors & hallways of Los Angeles High, just as you have, at the first public high school founded in Southern California. And some of these alumni became hugely successful, and made profound contributions to the world at large.

Not only did famous writer Ray Bradbury write short stories while attending Home of the Romans, but also best actor, Oscar-winner, Dustin Hoffman receive his diploma from LA High.  And did you know…. Charles Richter, who invented the Richter scale, which measures the intensity of earthquakes, took science classes at Los Angeles High School?

Who among you will become the next Ray Bradbury or Dustin Hoffman or Charles Richter?

Graduates, every single one of you have a story to tell, and the potential to accomplish great things.  Follow your passion, stick to your goals and persevere – do not ever give up on yourself. Do not ever give up on your dreams and passions.  I’ll close with this: the inspiring words of Henry David Thoreau: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.  CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!

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