The Bret Harte High School Class of 2019 celebrated the commencement of their post-grad lives Friday evening with flying tortillas and plenty of smiles.

The ceremony took place on Dorroh Field, accompanied by the sounds of the National Anthem, sung by senior Ellie Tafjen, and musical number played by Bret Harte’s own Triple Grounded.

Salutatorian Leah Jensvold reflected on the rewards and struggles of her experiences as a student athlete during her speech and congratulated her classmates for making it to the finish line.

“Looking at this class, I see people dedicated to their futures. I also see so many differences between all 138 of us,” Jensvold said. “We are all unique individuals, but that doesn’t mean we don’t share anything similar. We shared in the experience of cheering on our fellow Bullfrogs. We all pushed though and are now focusing on how we are a class, united together. United we are receiving our diplomas. United, we are excited for our futures, and united, we are looking back on our past, remembering the many good things and the difficulties we overcame.”

Jensvold encouraged the audience to shout out the name of the grad they were supporting at the end of her speech, inspiring an enthusiastic response.

Senior Class President and valedictorian Gurlovellen Kaur welcomed the crowd in Punjabi and thanked her classmates, her family, teachers and custodial staff before delivering a lighthearted speech to her peers. Kaur compared the challenges new grads face with Disney’s “Finding Nemo.”

“At this point, all of us sit here anxiously waiting for what comes next,” Kaur said. “It seems as if we are being taken from our little pond, being thrown into the ocean, and being told ‘Goodbye and good luck.’ The ocean is a very mysterious place because 95% of it hasn’t been explored yet. We face the same uncertainty towards the world because no matter how many stories we’ve been told, we still don’t know what we will encounter out there.

Kaur continued, “Sometimes we will end up completely lost, and the only lesson left will be to just keep swimming. … Even though it may seem like we are being thrown into undiscovered waters, our teachers, our families and our community did prepare us for what we face next.”

Following the speeches, Principal Heath Lane officially accepted the 2019 candidates for graduation and diplomas were awarded by the Bret Harte Union High School District Governing Board.

The new grads stepped forward to the stands, and Superintendent Michael Chimente presented Bret Harte’s Class of 2019.


Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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