A ‘Bittersweet’ Farewell To Class of 2022

Polina Asaulyuk and Zoe Woodrick

Venice High’s Class of 2022 is set to graduate today. 

The ceremony will take place on Watson Field at 4:00 P.M. and will include five speeches from Valedictorian Daniella Kensinger, salutatorian Rudi Paraiso, Class of 2022 president Lexie Buckley, the ASB President Arely Ocampo Bartolo, and a student speaker. 

This year, Venice High organized a contest where every senior was able to submit a speech to be considered for graduation. 

I’m a very sentimental person, so ending high school is really bittersweet for me,” said Buckley. “I see graduating high school as the end of my childhood, which is so hard to say goodbye to.”

Julia Bare will also deliver a speech as the sponsor of the Class of 2022.

Before graduation, the Class of 2022 has participated in many pre-graduation activities including Senior Awards Night, where more than $100,000 worth of scholarships and over 600 awards were given out.

The awards included 25 Persistence Awards, 110 Superintendent’s Honor Roll Awards, 84 silver cords for a G.P.A. of 3.0-3.59, and 148 gold cords for a G.P.A. of 3.6-3.9. 

In addition, students were given recognition from Venice’s Small Learning Communities. Departmental Awards were also given to those who have shown dedication to a specific subject. 

Overall, the Class of 2022 received over $130,000 worth of scholarships from the Venice Alumni Association alone. 

Buckley was awarded nine awards during Senior Awards Night. 

Senior Awards Night was proof that I can accomplish my goals without completely burning myself out,” said Buckley. “The night was such a gratifying experience and a great way to end high school on a high note.”

Science Teacher Julia Bare, the Class of 2022 sponsor, hosted the ceremony at the Mark Twain Middle School auditorium.

This year marks the first time Senior Awards Night was held in person since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s been such a crazy year trying to get everything going,” said Bare. “So being able to celebrate with the students in-person was magical.

“It was really, really amazing to see what these kids have been able to accomplish and overcome in the last couple of years,” she said. “I started crying at the ceremony, because I am just so attached to these kids and it is wonderful to see the beautiful adults they are becoming.” 

In addition to student awards, two of Venice High’s teachers were recognized for their continued dedication and commitment to teaching. 

Math teacher John Bruno won the EDDY Award that is given to teachers who have managed to demonstrate outstanding innovative classroom instruction strategies. 

“To win this year was nice, because it’s been such a tough year,” said Bruno, who got the award at a ceremony earlier last month. 

English teacher Hazel Kight-Witham won a WAVE Award given to teachers by the Venice Chamber of Commerce. 

“It’s really nice that colleagues appreciate my efforts at creating community,” said Kight-Witham.