Published : Friday, June 7, 2019 | 4:13 PM
It was a starry night for Immaculate Heart’s 117 seniors as they took center stage under the bright lights at the Hollywood Bowl for the high school’s 113th commencement.
The June 5th ceremony marked a milestone for members of the Class of 2019 as they proudly accepted their diplomas. Glowing in traditional white and carrying bouquets of red roses, the students relished their achievement – even as they anticipated their futures – before hundreds of cheering family members, friends and faculty.
The graduates will now venture beyond their school community to colleges and universities across the country and even abroad. That rite of passage prompted reflection from Student Body President Seb Cahill, selected as the ceremony’s class speaker. “I am sure I speak for our class when I say I am overwhelmed with gratitude tonight,” Cahill said. “Without those around us, we would not be here.”
Cahill, who will study at UC Berkeley next fall, praised Immaculate Heart as “a place to learn the truths of the world” – where students are taught “to triumph over injustices, over our fears, over obstacles that seemed insurmountable.” That education will now motivate the graduates to seek positive change in the world, the speaker noted.
“We live in a difficult time. Our political situation is fraught, our world is mistreated, and constant atrocities numb us to the pain present around us,” Cahill said. “Yet here, when I look behind me, stand the future lawyers, doctors, artists, activists, politicians, and athletes who will change the world, each of them people of great heart and right conscience. I have no fear for these people, people I will always be proud to call my family, and no fear of living in the world they will create,” the graduate concluded, drawing enthusiastic applause.
Building on that sentiment was commencement speaker Pauline Aranas, an attorney and an IH alumna of the Class of 1972. She currently serves as the associate dean of the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, chief information officer for the John Stauffer Charitable Trust, director of the USC Law Library, and an adjunct professor of law.
Aranas acknowledged fond memories of her own Immaculate Heart graduation at the Hollywood Bowl (as well as those of her three sisters), and she shared her appreciation for an IH education that provided her and the graduates “a foundation to meet any challenge in life.”
“We have learned to value ourselves and see the strength we each have as an individual,” she said. “We’ve learned to honor and respect the individuality and diversity of others. And we’ve learned how welcoming, caring, and supportive it is to be a part of a community, to be part of this community,” she stressed.
Aranas encouraged the Class of 2019 to “make a difference in the lives of anyone you encounter” and reminded them “that a simple act of kindness can have an immeasurable impact on the recipient of that kindness.” She also urged the graduates to keep “a sense of wonder and fun in discovery,” to “always foster a generosity of spirit and find ways to help others,” and to “always nurture and treasure the friendships you’ve developed here.”
“Hopefully, you’ll not only find your moments of joy, but I also hope you take time in your daily life to give thanks,” the alumna told the graduates.
Joining Aranas onstage were retiring theology chair Christine Knudsen, who offered her last commencement invocation, IH President Maureen Diekmann, and IHHS Principal Naemah Morris, who conferred the diplomas as English chair Marc van der Woude presented the graduates.
As part of the ceremony, the graduates performed song selections, including “The Climb” and “I’ll Remember,” followed by the school’s Alma Mater, all arranged and directed by Gregory Koppenhaver. Their procession off the stage drew even more thunderous applause.
About Immaculate Heart
Founded in 1906, Immaculate Heart High School & Middle School educates young women in grades sixth through 12th from its central location in the Los Feliz foothills near Griffith Park in Hollywood. The school has a long and distinguished history, with more than 10,000 graduates. Today’s student body of more than 700 young women is both geographically and ethnically diverse, drawing on students from throughout Los Angeles County.
Immaculate Heart High School & Middle School, 5515 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 461-3651 or visit www.immaculateheart.org.