Graduates honored at ceremony with rich traditions

Posted: June 24th, 2016 | Columns, Featured, Foothiller Footsteps | No Comments

By Connie and Lynn Baer

For 95 years, Grossmont High School’s students and staff have taken great pride in the traditions surrounding graduation. Each year at graduation, the most outstanding seniors are recognized for their achievements. Thursday, June 16, 468 seniors became one of the nearly 36,000 Foothillers graduates.

Academically, several students were recognized for having the highest grade point average: two Salutatorians, Antonina Contreras (4.786 GPA) and Mattelyn Wadley (4.780 GPA), and Valedictorian Bradley Justice (4.833 GPA).

“Our class would not be the same without any one of us,” said Justice in his valedictorian address to the class. “Each was an individual, yet all of us were one…. I am not here today to tell you how to live your life. I am here because I want the world to know how great it is to be young and a Foothiller.”

Three perpetual graduation trophies are awarded to seniors. Since 1927, two identical silver loving cup trophies have acknowledged one graduating senior young woman and one senior young man. The 90 recipients’ names are engraved on the trophies. Joining them this year are Megan Calabrese and Tommy Rutherford.

2016 Daisy Chain

The outstanding juniors who make up 2016’s Daisy Chain (Courtesy of Grossmont High School Museum)

The most prestigious service award given at graduation is the Norman Freeman Award, first given in 1953 as a memorial to Norman Freeman, Class of 1947. The trophy is engraved: “For the Grossmont student who has most strengthened democracy through participation and leadership in student government.” This year’s recipient is Jack Greenwood.

In 1925, outstanding seniors were first recognized with a Circle G, which was the highest award then given to graduating seniors. In 2016 these six seniors were honored: Luke Adams, Jeffrey Herchert, Marissa Martinez, Tony Murphy, Michael Plummer, and Mattelyn Wadley. Each student received a gold pin, a G enclosed in a circle — a reminder of the legacy binding GHS graduating seniors for nine decades.

Since the 1930s, the graduates have been led into the ceremony by the Daisy Chain. Today, the staff selects 50 young men and young women on the basis of their school activities, scholarship, and citizenship. Each year the honored students create two ivy chains with daisies interwoven into them which these outstanding juniors carry; being selected is the highest honor awarded juniors.

Another tradition begun is 1965 is the Principal’s Letters of Commendations to students who have distinguished themselves in particular areas at Grossmont. This year, Principal Dan Barnes recognized nine students: Luke Anderson, Mark Hazlebeck, Polin Ivanova, Carleigh Jensen, Ashlynn Jimmerson, Matty McKay, Jacob Niskey, Kate Norton, Julia Race, and Dane Travis.

“You are part of a remarkable tradition, one that probably includes many grandparents and parents here in the audience this afternoon,” said Barnes and the graduation. “So, graduates of 2016, as you celebrate your achievements today, make sure that you take special pride in your role in that tradition.”

Class of 2016 (1)

The 2016 graduates of Grossmont High School (Courtesy of Grossmont High School Museum)

To learn more about Grossmont’s unique heritage, visit the museum this summer: noon — 4, July 6 or Aug. 3, or by appointment. Contact information: or 619-668-6140. Please browse our website:

—Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the Grossmont High School Museum.

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