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Pasadena Unified Graduates 1,092 at the Rose Bowl

Six Pasadena high schools celebrate commencement ceremonies after more than a year of off-campus learning

Published on Saturday, June 5, 2021 | 5:00 am

Following more than a year of off-campus learning and little interaction with fellow students, the Pasadena Unified School District on Friday graduated seniors from its six high schools in two in-person ceremonies at the Rose Bowl.

An estimated 1,092 students from the Center for Independent Studies, John Muir Early College Magnet High School, John Marshall Fundamental Secondary, and Rose City High School graduated in ceremonies Friday morning, while Blair and Pasadena High School students graduated in the afternoon. 

“Some of these students have not seen each other since the pandemic started,” reflected PUSD Board President Scott Phelps, before the afternoon ceremony. 

“It’s been a struggle,” he said,  “but struggles make us stronger.” 

Over the musical strains of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, performed by a student orchestra, Phelps added, “It’s been wonderful to look out from the stage, at the graduates, and especially to see the parents here, and everyone cheering.”

PUSD Superintendent Brian McDonald congratulated the Class of 2021 on their accomplishment during a highly unusual school year.

“The students in the class of 2021 are truly outstanding,” McDonald said. “They’ve watched the world change. We’ve seen them grow into compassionate and skilled problem-solvers who will lead us into better days. They’ve shown us what it means to be resilient, adaptive, and collaborative.”

Last year’s graduation ceremonies were held virtually.

The graduating class of 2021 had been in distance learning since August 2020, due to the pandemic, and then went back to campus in April 2021. 

PUSD Board Member Jennifer Hall Lee said in an email she was pleased the students were able to enjoy an in-person ceremony at the iconic Rose Bowl.

“PUSD is a forward-thinking district,” she said. “I am thrilled to be on the stage watching our seniors receive their much-deserved diplomas.”

Fellow Board Member Elizabeth Pomeroy described the commencement as “a joyful and one-of-a-kind day for PUSD.”

“All of our high schools will have their graduation ceremonies in one day, in the Rose Bowl!” she wrote in an email. “Congratulations to all these seniors and their families for success in such a challenging year.”

PUSD’s 2021 valedictorians are Genevieve Harvey from Blair High School, who will be attending Vanderbilt University; Mason Usher from John Muir High School, who will be attending Brown University; Alexandria Velasco from Marshall High School, who will be attending UCLA; Florence Winslow from Rose City High School, who will be attending Pasadena City College; Jada Paul from CIS Academy, who will be attending San Francisco State University; and Ritaj Abdulquani from Pasadena High School, who will be attending Northwestern University.

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