Sun shines as Class of 2002
by Lenny Roberts
"Hail to thee, old Nordhoff
And your colors, too
Hail to your ivy walls
Hail to the gold and blue,
Hail to thee, old Nordhoff
And your mighty men,
Hail to your spirit, team,
Again and again!"
Under postcard skies, Nordhoff High School graduated 251 students
Friday as an overflow crowd roared with delight.
As if it were a baseball game, homemade signs of support popped
up in sync with some graduates' appearance as the Class of 2002
paraded around the track en route to being seated on the community
stadium's football field.
The commencement began with performances by Nordhoff's famed
Jazz and Symphonic bands before Christopher Collier, who wrote
an overture specifically for the occasion, conducted the combined
Following messages by Salutatorian Jessica Rigali and Valedictorians
Erin Deneen and Charlene McCord, Jenna Halverson got everyone's
attention with a sterling vocal performance of "Fields of
Gold." A band comprised of Matthew Husted, Patrick Perrault,
Corey Shanbrom, Kyle Swan, Trevor Weedon and Crosley Williamson
also performed Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," prompting
Assistant Principal Susana Arce to comment, "We were all
very pleased with the wonderful speakers and musicians. They
were all just great."
After a few students "acted up" at the 2001 commencement,
Arce and other school officials were concerned that a trend had
been established by students for less-than-desirable behavior.
But this year, Arce was more than pleased with the graduating
"I want to express our appreciation to all the parents who
worked so hard. Student behavior was just wonderful. This graduation
went off beautifully and we're delighted," she said.
In his commencement address, Outstanding Boy and Ranger of the
Year Severo Lara recalled racial tensions he experienced as a
young Hispanic growing up in Ojai, and how those issues seemed
to vanish at Nordhoff. Vanessa Calderon was named Girl of the
But the most touching moment, also generating the most vocal
enthusiasm from the more than 3,000 in attendance, was the awarding
of posthumous diplomas to Kali Manley, Matt Beck and Jean Whitlock,
who all were in the Class of 2002.
"I think honoring these three deceased students added solemnity
to this occasion," said Arce. "These students were
very much touched by the loss of their friends."
NHS top 10 scholars were, followed by their grade-point averages:
Erin Deneen 4.229; Charlene McCord, 4.229; Jessica Rigali, 4.208;
Tristan Harward, 4.188; Jenna Halverson, 4.125; Corey Shanbrom,
4.104; Christopher Collier, 4.083; Nadia Osborn, 4.063, Bridget
Summers, 4.063; and Rhett Walker, 4.042
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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HIGH SCHOOL's graduation Friday included such scenes as Ranger
of the Year Severo Lara framed by the rays of the setting sun.