Seniors bid farewell at graduation ceremony

The Palo Alto High School graduating Class of 2023 toss its caps at the end of the graduation ceremony on June 1 at the Viking Stadium. Senior Arielle Blumenfeld reminded the graduating class of the paths they have traversed throughout their journey at Paly. “Not only are we leaving behind a multitude of memories, but also we will leave behind our legacies since our first day at Paly,” Blumenfeld said. “Each memory shared here, each English essay used as an example for future periods, and each trophy you worked so hard to win … has occurred throughout our time here.” (Photo: Jeremy Dukes)

With grinning students and teary-eyed parents, the graduates of Palo Alto High School’s Class of 2023 are closing out their formative years of high school and moving on to the next phase of their journey.

Over 500 graduating seniors from the 2023 class were in attendance, coming together with friends and family to celebrate and say their final goodbyes to Paly. The festivities included speeches from student representatives and musical performances from the Paly Pep Band and Paly Choirs. 

According to senior Jonas Pao, who performed the piano as part of a student-formed band on stage during the ceremony, the graduation and his performance were an exciting end to his high school career.

“It feels like four years or honestly, your whole childhood builds up to this one moment,” Pao said. “It’s really special being up there [on stage], especially being able to play.”

In her graduation speech, senior Arielle Blumenfeld highlighted the diverse legacies each 2023 graduate would leave behind.

“We are leaving behind more than one moment,” Blumenfeld said. “Those moments we leave and the legacies we contribute to this school will stay there for a very long time.”

In an address to the crowd, Principal Brent Kline reflected on the past four years with the Class of 2023, highlighting its resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic in its freshman year.

“What I want you [the Class of 2023] to know and what I appreciate most is your ability to go against the tide and create your own trends,” Kline said. “I’m grateful for your kind-heartedness, cooperation and willingness to help one another. Always remember the lessons you learn, the memories you made and the impact that you have on the world.”

Before diplomas were distributed, Palo Alto Unified School District School Board President Jennifer DiBrienza highlighted the roles of district staff and parents in making the graduation class’s high school journeys possible.

“Being here today happened due to a lot of hard work from a lot of other people,” DiBrienza said. “Everyone has served you so much to get you to where you are today.”

Diplomas were then distributed to the graduating Class of 2023 to the sound of cheers from the crowd, the procession of seniors lasting for nearly an hour. After the procession, Associated Student Body President Ashley Meyer gave a send-off to the graduating seniors in the final speech of the afternoon.

“Use uncertainty as a stepping stone to reach greater heights,” Meyer said. “The future is uncertain, but it’s also full of infinite possibilities.”

The InFocus live stream of the graduation ceremony can be found here.