The scoreboard at Memorial Stadium read “20:14” for the Vintage High School graduation Thursday afternoon.
Dressed in burgundy robes with gold accents, the school’s class of 2014 gathered to receive accolades and diplomas at the first of two stadium graduations on Thursday. Napa High would follow at night.
Parents, friends and family filled the stands, some carrying flowers and balloon bouquets for the grads. Many wore hats or sat under large umbrellas in an effort to stay cool under the cloudless sky.
Waiting under the bleachers for his turn to parade to the center of the field, senior Louis Jones wore a gold class ring along with his graduation robes. His advice to next year’s seniors was to “participate in everything you can. It goes by so quickly.”
Jones said he appreciated how the class of 400-plus students became a family. “I remember them from freshman orientation,” he said. “I look around and know most people here.”
“It’s exciting” to be graduating, said senior Brian Vasquez, “but at the same time kind of scary.” The first in his immediate family to graduate from high school and attend college, Vasquez said he wasn’t sure if he was ready to start paying his own bills, but “I’m up for the challenge,” he said.
“Words can’t explain it,” said senior Armando Sandoval. “I’ve done a lot to get to this point,” and “I’ve made my parents proud,” he said.
“I wish I could do it all over again” said senior Antonia Guitas. Senior year “went by way too fast,” she said. Her favorite class was woodshop, said Guitas. “The teacher was the best I ever had.”
Guitas said she plans to join the Navy and head off to boot camp. Her goal is to become a lieutenant, she said.
Kaycee Walston said she was “excited to move onto the next step in life.” Her favorite thing about high school was four years of playing basketball, she said. Now that she’s graduating, “I’ll miss my friends that are sophomores and juniors.”
“I’m nervous but excited,” said senior Anthony Avina. “Twelve years of school is a lot to take in.” When asked what his advice would be for incoming seniors, Avina said “Don’t wait for the last minute to do your work.”
“It feels awesome” to be graduating, said senior Madison Bement. “I’m so ready.” One of her top 12th-grade memories was a senior prank when students filled the principal’s office with marshmallows, she said with a smile.
Her voice echoing across the stadium, senior counselor Kathleen Brainerd introduced the graduates followed by the familiar march of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Filing slowly onto the grounds, each grad wore matching burgundy robes, but with their own choice of footwear – from Converse to Vans, black dress shoes and cowboy boots.
Once seated, the class was serenaded by a live performance of several songs, including “We Go Together,” known from the movie “Grease.” Later, several boxes of white doves were released. Swooping over the graduates, the birds flew away from the crowd and then up and over the stadium and into the sky.