Almaden Country Day School, a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade independent school, graduated 42 eighth graders on Thursday, June 10, on campus, in a private, family-only diploma ceremony in Almaden Valley, San Jose.
This year’s graduation united the best of two worlds: an in-person diploma ceremony, and a virtual graduation traditions event online that was streamed to our whole community.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, which was led by student Ayaan Vaswani, Head of school Dr. Olaf Jorgenson shared some advice and wishes to the class. “This was the year of masks...And masks are also a metaphor. We all wear different masks for different occasions...life is full of masks. What masks will you wear in high school? Will you do everything you can to learn and grow, to suck the marrow out of high school? Class of 2021...I hope we see your ACDS mask appear once in a while so you continue to embody some of what you learned here...to be kind, to work hard, to be determined, to get involved and try new things and not worry about failure. To take action about things that matter to you and to make a positive difference in the world.” Dr. Jorgenson continued, “Who you are and what you do is what matters. You are what you do.”
Vidyut Hegde, this year’s speech contest winner, reflected on his class as well. “We are fortunate to be at a school that is respectful of difference and that intentionally that gives us the space to explore our identity... It is up to you to decide who you want to be...How you can change the lives of others while also growing as a person to be the best version of you, you can be.” his speech closes.
Another graduation tradition that highlights the school’s values, each graduate composed and offered tributes to every teacher who had taught them through their academic journey. The teachers also shared their favorite memories and highlighted the special qualities about each student in the virtual graduation traditions event. The school's graduation traditions also include a class gift presentation, this year the school was given a custom trophy case for the new Fisher Event Center, and a song sung by the Apple Tree-o, comprised of three faculty members, Mrs. Michelle Ahlgren, Mr. Gary DeMoss, and Mrs. Julia Hatch. The song, "Wherever You Go," tells the students that while parting is inevitable, their teachers hope they achieve their dreams and carry what they learn with them "wherever they go."
Almaden Country Day School also gave a "Founder's Award" to a child who most wholly represents the ideals of kindness, service, and joy, as originally established by Almaden Country Day School founder, Mrs. Nan Hunter. This year, Anya Lauritsen received the award presented by Mrs. Jennifer Voelkel, middle school faculty member.
The new graduates will transition to a variety of public and private high schools in the fall – Congratulations, Class of 2021!