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Da Vinci graduates get very personal send-offs

With tears in her eyes, Alexis Ortiz walks up to receive her diploma at Tuesday evening's Da Vinci High School commencement ceremony at UC Davis' Freeborn Hall. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

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From page A1 | June 06, 2012 |

Da Vinci Charter Academy may have sent its largest graduating class yet out into the world on Tuesday night, but the ceremony itself retained the same personal, intimate feel it had back when the very first Da Vinci graduates received their diplomas seven years ago.

As they were back then, each of the 109 graduates this year were personally introduced by a faculty member, who described the student’s personality and strengths, what he or she brought to Da Vinci, and what will be missed about them.

The hundreds of family members and friends who filled Freeborn Hall on the UC Davis campus also were treated to 15-second video clips made by each of the students to thank family, friends and teachers for their support over the years.

Full of childhood photos, music and clever graphics, the videos evoked many laughs, as well as some tears from the audience.

So, too, did the comments about each of the graduates.

English and social studies teacher Tyler Millsap called graduate Danya Axelrad-Hausman “a daily source of kindness, compassion and positivity all across the Da Vinci campus.”

Julianna Arvin, he said, is a “deeply humble and understated person … but an academic rock star.”

On the other hand, Indigo Angell, said Millsap, is the guy to see “if you plan on getting a tattoo anytime soon.”

Principal Rody Boonchouy called Sianna de la Cruz “steely determination wrapped in a sunshine-infused smile” and Benjy Egel “a constant positive force,” not to mention “classy, stylin’ and an all-around gentleman.”

Mikako Grain, said science teacher Zach Ronneberg, produces artwork “that is revered at Da Vinci and beyond,” while Luke Hampton, he said, is “kind of annoying to folks like you and I (because) he’s just so darn good at everything.”

Karla Palomino was described as someone whose “Hula-Hooping skills can put us all to shame,” while Alex May, Jake McCann and Alex Walker were recognized for their significant contributions to the school’s Citrus Circuits robotics team.

Of Jesse Karban, it was said, “if you’re a kid, and you’re friends with him, consider it a privilege.”

Science teacher Bekah Rottenberg echoed a friend who said Vanessa Rivas-Bernardy “is one of the few people I know who will actually make a difference” in the world.

And Catia Romero, she said, “is one of the most kind, easy-going, quick-to-laugh students I’ve ever met.”

Just before Eli Siegel was to be handed his diploma, his classmates, and the crowd, broke out into a rendition of “Happy Birthday” — evidence, a teacher said, of how beloved he is by his classmates.

Graduate Henry Spivey, who wants to become an entrepreneur, was described as “Donald Trump with a soul … and better hair,” and classmate Carson Stone as “the one of the kindest people we know … with an amazing ability to make people happy.”

It wasn’t all talk and videos of course. Like all graduation ceremonies, there were awards to be presented, including the annual essay scholarship awards bestowed by Da Vinci’s Booster Club. This year, two students won for their essays on how Da Vinci contributed to their personal growth and prepared them for the outside world — Clare Leary and Chloe Troung-Jones.

The school’s Compass Award, presented to students who provide unique guidance and leadership to their fellow students and faculty, also went to two students this year: Samuel Warren and Emily Wilcox.

And a scholarship for $1,000 from Davis Waste Removal went to Melissa Bradford.

In talking about the graduating class, Boonchouy called the students critical thinkers, collaborators and communicators, all well-prepared for what lies ahead.

“We enthusiastically look forward to hearing all the news about all of you,” he told them.

No doubt there will be lots to hear.

Said graduate Samantha Adamson: “Watch out, world. Here we come.”

Looking on in the crowd were Da Vinci’s two former principals — Pam Mari and Matt Best, who both now work in the district office — as well as Superintendant Winfred Roberson and several school board members.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

The Da Vinci High School Class of 2012 includes:

Samantha Adamson, Andre Almeida, Shlok Amin, Indigo H. Angell, Julianna Arvin, Danya Axelrad-Hausman, Ryan Banwarth, Johann Baptista, Mallory Claire Barnes-Ohlson, Fynn Becker, Lisa Morgan Bell, Anthony Michael Berardi, Grace Blacker, Hannah Bohte, Hannah Nicole Boney, Luke Bowlus, Melissa Joy Bradford, Augustus Brandt, Max Samuel Brumer, Lukas Buck, Bronwyn Burns, Miles Harrison Burr, Margaret Campos, Benjamin Canning, Natalia Luisa Chess, Sierra Clark, Alexander James Clubb.

Sianna de la Cruz, Cedric Duffy, William DuPratt, Iris Eddy, Benjamin Egel, Melecio Estrella, Owen T. Filmer, Parker Fritch, Owen Goodwin, Mikako Enid Grain, Max Aaron Green, Luke Hampton, Amanda Hart, Nikolas Harter, Harrison Christian Hedriana, Amber Marie Hill-Newbury, Adonis Blue Real Kalalang-Branscumb, Jesse Karban, Ruth Krabacher, Layla M. Kutternig, Sean Brian Larimore, Alexander Lascher-Posner, Clare Morgan Leary, Nathan Harris Lefkoff.

Jennifer Margarita Lopez, Alexander James Magrino, Dylan Reis Malloy, Simon Marliere, Alexander May, Jacob McCann, Innis Mccomb, Nicholas P Mead, Miley Veale Meads, Brenna Mockler, Yoshi Moore, Fallon O’Neill, Alexis Ortiz, Yuriko Oto, Caroline M. Paikoff, Karla Palomino, Dominic Amos Perez, Averi Pollard, Anvi A. Purohit, Matthew Michael Ramirez, Alexander Rendahl, Emma Reynolds, Andrew Ricci, Vanessa Rivas-Bernardy, Madelyn Roblee, Nigel Roderick Robles, Alani M. Rojas, Sid Xavier Romero, Catia Romero, Ian Andrew Rosner, Rebecca Rubin, Shanthi Russell.

Alexandra Ellen Sanders, Eli Siegel, Jennifer Silva, Samantha Nicole Simes, Benjamin Slavich, Henry Spivey, Brede  Stokland, Rowan Stewart, Carson Stone, Elizabeth Strnad, Aditya V. Sundaresan, Benjamin Tennenbaum, Jesse James Tessmer-Fields, Kalley Thompson, Robert Lee Thompson, My Tran, Chloe Madeleine Truong-Jones, Brian S. Varley, Alexander James Walker, Samuel Caspar Warren, Emily Mae Wilcox, Conor Wuertz, Destinee Sage Yarrow-Camacho, Peter J Young, Zachary David Zehnder.

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Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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