Athens Drive students honored at early graduation ceremony


Stephen Mares, Athens Drive Principal, speaks at the Early Graduation Ceremony Jan. 23, 2019. Provided by Kritika Saraf

Milin Santizo-Escobar, Online Photography Editor

Over 40 seniors in the 2019 class at Athens Drive High School graduated Jan. 23, 2019. This marks the biggest early graduation ceremony in Athens Drive’s history. The graduation ceremony took place at 7 p.m. in the auditorium with friends and families of  the students attending the occasion, along with Athens faculty.

“That’s what we’re here to do. Turn a chapter in a life,” said Christopher Remaley, senior advisor, and head organizer of both midyear and normal graduations.

Senior class co-presidents, Caroline Post and Amy Urquijo, gave out the commencement speech to all guests. Urquijo also introduced Rocco Nociti, student body president.

“I actually really enjoyed speaking at mid year graduation. Being in the spotlight I figured I would be a little nervous but seeing all of my peers getting ready to walk across the stage with smiles on their faces, it felt good to be a part of it,” said Nociti.

Various Athens Drive teachers were also in attendance at the ceremony, helping to prepare and ensure that everything goes as planned. Rachel Shelton, an Athens Drive math teacher was present, along with Jessica Crooks, social studies teacher.

“It was really cool to see kids graduate. It’s always an exciting thing to see students you’ve taught walking across the stage and reach that goal they’ve been working towards for so long,” said Shelton.

According to Athens Drive policy, students are required to have 26 credits completed in order to graduate. As it is possible at Athens to take up to 8 credits per year, students who have fulfilled all the required credits early on are eligible to graduate in the winter. Students who want to graduate early must talk to their guidance counselors in order for them to schedule the mandatory classes in the fall semester.  

“It felt great to graduate early because I was very excited for what was coming in the future,” said Kritika Saraf, 2019 spring graduate.

There are a variety of reasons why students opt to graduate early. Some students graduate early in order to directly join the workforce. Others go straight to college for the spring semester, including Jennifer Chang, Athens Drive alumni and current University of Southern California attendee, class of 2018. Graduating early provides some students more time to work and earn money for college as well.

“I had enough credits to graduate early, and I wanted to use the time to earn general education college credits and complete an internship at a data visualization firm. I’m already working towards a bachelor degree,” said Saraf.

Stephen Mares, Athens Drive principal, gave the closing speech wishing all graduates luck in their respective paths. The ceremony ended with Teresa Brown, Dean of Students, handing out diplomas to all graduates.

“As a teacher you feel really proud when you see students reach that milestone especially when you know how hard they’ve worked to achieve that. You feel very happy for them. You know it really symbolizes the end of one chapter but the beginning of another. We’re sending them out into the world. Like a mama bird pushing their baby bird out of the nest. It’s pretty moving for a lot of teachers,” said Crooks.