Class of 2019 celebrates graduation at Mountain Winery


Emily Tan

The class of 2019 toss their mortarboards in the air to celebrate their graduation yesterday at Mountain Winery. The commencement ceremony began at 5 p.m. and included speeches from valedictorian Kaushik Shivakumar (’19) and keynote speaker Judge John B. Owens (’85).

by Nicole Tian, Emily Tan, Sriya Batchu, and

With a sprawling backdrop of the Stevens Creek Preserve nestled among layers of lush hills, the Class of 2019 graduated yesterday at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

Starting at 5 p.m, the ceremony lasted for two hours and include multiple performances and speakers, with members of the National Honor Society handing out programs to the audience members. Seniors decorated their graduation caps with school logos and colors before the event to display the colleges they were planning on attending, and the amphitheater was packed with friends and family, many of whom had brought along balloons, signs and bouquets of flowers while some even brought blown up pictures of a senior’s face.

The event began with a musical prelude by the upper School graduation orchestra conducted by director Dr. David Hart, followed by their rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar, which accompanied the seniors as they proceeded to their seats. The graduates were then followed by faculty, who took their seats onstage.

After a performance of Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner” by choir groups Cantilena, Camarata, Downbeat and Bel Canto, who were directed by music teacher Jennifer Sandusky, 2019 valedictorian Kaushik Shivakumar delivered his farewell address to the seniors. His speech involved his experience in facilitating robotics workshops as well as references to scientific achievements while he spoke about his 13 years of experience at Harker and encouraged his peers to stay curious.

“I certainly hope this isn’t the last time we see each other, because saying goodbye isn’t going to be easy,” Kaushik said. “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be… the best we can possibly be is up to us, and only us. In that time, let’s be grateful and make the most of it.”

The keynote speaker this year was John B. Owens, a Harker alumnus from the class of 1985 who now works as a federal judge. Some memorable experiences he mentioned were joining lower school Primary Division Head Sarah Leonard’s class after attending a rough public school and having an eraser thrown at him by retired math teacher Pat Walsh.

Once the guest address had finished, the choir sang the Harker School Song, and Head of School Brian Yager addressed the seniors in a speech about the history of California and the Bay Area, specifically noting the writings of 19th century lawyer and politician Richard Henry Dana and the achievements of Walt Disney.

Row by row, the seniors enthusiastically lined up to the left of the stage to receive their diplomas. Once senior class dean and upper school math teacher Victor Adler called their names, they shook hands and received their diplomas from Head of School Brian Yager. As faculty began filing out of the venue, the graduation orchestra performed “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar once again, filling the amphitheater with ambient music as the ceremony came to a close.

With wide smiles, the seniors exchanged congratulations, bearing their diplomas proudly. Friends, family and faculty surrounded the new graduates, taking pictures and wishing each other the best of luck. Anna Wang (12) and Constance Horng (12) described the entire experience as “surreal,” and Mitchell Granados (12) advises underclassmen to “enjoy high school” and to not “stress about things you can’t control.”

“I’m feeling very, very happy and emotional that [Devanshi] has graduated from a great school, and she has made a lot of effort and hard work from the start, and I think she’ll carry [that] over to the next step in her life,” her mother, Rupali Mehta, said.