A time to reflect and give thanks


Eager students gather in front of The Downey First Baptist Church for Baccalaureate, on June 10, at 3 p.m. Seniors who attended the ceremony received one additional ticket for graduation.

Jessica Xilo, Parents & Teachers Editor

Seniors gathered for the first time in their caps and gowns during Baccalaureate, at Downey First Baptist on Sunday, June 10, for a ceremony to celebrate and reflect on their rite of passage.

The afternoon began with a greeting from principal Tom Houts in which he inspired students to think about who they are and how they have developed their character throughout their four years in high school. Following Houts, certain seniors gave speeches or sang a song of their choice.

Senior Jawaun Jackson was the first to speak. He described the obstacles he faced during his freshman year and thanked his teachers and coaches for giving him the confidence he needed to succeed.

“I loved Jawaun’s speech. It was amazing and motivational,” senior Jasmine Ibarra said. “He actually almost made me cry.”

After Jackson, seniors Rebekah Jin and Kimberly Matamoros spoke and emphasized how quickly graduation is approaching.  With a bit of humor, they recapped some of the

experiences most seniors can relate to, such as dodging seagulls during lunch.

“What I liked was the speeches. They were heartwarming and made me realize how fast the fours years went. The event in general made me super excited for graduation,” senior Bernice Gonzalez said. “This was a remarkable experience and graduation will just be better knowing we’ve accomplished so much.”

In addition to the speeches, some students sang a song of their choice. Seniors Randell Milan and Joey Na sang Michael Jackson’s “The Girl is Mine” and senior Francis Flores sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

“I chose ‘Hallelujah’ because it’s close to me. I sang it to audition for both jazz choir and the musical so I thought it would be appropriate,” Flores said. “It was bittersweet for me. It was one of the last times with my jazz choir and they’re like family to me. My parents were happy and sad at the same time because I’m leaving in a couple of months as well.”

After a final performance, Principal Houts gave his closing remarks. The next time seniors wear their caps and gowns will be at graduation. Until then, they are encouraged to reflect on how much they have accomplished and what they plan to do once they begin their journey through adulthood.