Samohi, Dear Old Samohi!

With shouts of “19” echoing across the stage, the Santa Monica High School Class of 2019 flipped their tassels from right to left and exuberantly took their final steps as high school students, This was the 165th graduation ceremony at Samohi, and 670 seniors took part in this time-honored tradition.

As the students strode into the Memorial Greek Theatre the crowd of over 3500 parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and friends clapped, cheered and waved signs as the seniors, resplendent in their bright blue cap & gowns entered the fabled amphitheater.

The backdrop of the Greek Theatre draped in new Samohi Blue and Gold decor was stunning. Agapanthus, a blue flower that annually decorates the extended stage was in abundance.

The acclaimed Samohi orchestra, choir, and exceptional student soloists added to the celebration. The graduation took all of two hours to honor our students, retiring faculty (Dean Catherine Baxter deserves special recognition) and have the required student and dignitary speeches. Principal Antonio Shelton’s recital of the Dr. Seuss poem, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” stood out as the rhymes made clear that each of them could steer in any direction they choose and that they would each decide where they would go in life.

Samohi has a 128-year tradition of preparing our community’s finest young men and women for great lives. Indeed, astronauts, Nobel prize winners, great actors, authors, engineers, and politicians have walked the hallowed halls of our city’s high school. Add to that list, your local electrician, plumber, council member, pharmacist, attorney, and the impact our graduates have had on our city, state, country, and the world is immense.

Over 50,000 Samohi Viking graduates are still alive and contributing to our world today. We can all welcome the contributions these new graduates will make to our society and envy the experiences they will have.

Traditionally, all ceremonies at Santa Monica High School end with the great Hymn Of Praise penned by a graduate of the class of 1928, Kenneth Darby. Godspeed and Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

Oh Samohi, dear old Samohi,

Queen of the setting sun,

For you we toil,

For you our banners fly,

We win for you when victory’s won

All hail to thee, Mighty Samohi,

Our Faith in the ne’er will fail,

For the love that we give

is they po’er to live,

To thee, All Hail!

We often discuss development, sustainability, and our cohesiveness as a community in this column. Samohi is the glue that has connected our residents since 1891 when it officially became our community’s high school. As the physical plant continues to modernize, we hope that vestiges of our magnificent campus will remain to connect all ages of graduates. The removal of two older classroom buildings occurred within the past year.  One new temple of learning is rising. The Discovery Building will house 38 classrooms, labs, and support facilities.

A new swimming pool and new cafeteria are coming as well. Also, a new soccer/lacrosse field will break ground in late August on a portion of the former Santa Monica Civic Parking Lot. That took over two decades of citizen activism for the new field space to become a reality. Thousands of high school students and community members will use this new facility.

There are more renovations and innovations to come because our high school, like all of us, is always evolving.  The Memorial Greek Amphitheater and the traditional English Building are over a century old, and the History Building foundations date back to the first quarter of the 1900s. But the buildings, while providing a place for learning with gravitas, are just the backdrop for the engaged learning that occurs on campus. The school seal has four keywords in it, Sincerity, honor, maturity, and service. Our city’s students live and breathe that motto each day and will the rest of their lives.

We can be proud of the students of Samohi, one of the nation’s top high schools because it is our community’s melting pot. It is the gathering spot of community diversity, and our students evolve into engaged, intelligent, curious young adults because of their time at Samohi. Take time to thank the dedicated teachers and administrators who show up each day. Take time to appreciate the dedicated volunteers who assist our students in reaching their personal life goals. Finally, take time to congratulate each other. Your support of our high school has enabled our students, past, present, and future, to thrive.

By Phil Brock, President for Samohi Alumni Association, for SMart (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow)

Thane Roberts, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Ron Goldman FAIA, Architect, Dan Jansenson, Architect, Building and Fire-Life Safety Commission, Samuel Tolkin Architect, Mario Fonda-Bonardi, AIA, Planning Commissioner, Phil Brock, Santa Monica Arts Commission. 

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