Los Alamitos High School Seniors Celebrated in Annual Rossmoor Car Parade

The graduates whose high school experience was shaped by the worldwide pandemic, take part in the tradition first created in response to Covid restrictions.

Los Alamitos High School Seniors Celebrated in Annual Rossmoor Car Parade
Los Alamitos High School seniors take part in the Graduation Celebration Parade in Rossmoor on June 1. Photo by David N. Young.

The Graduation Celebration Parade in Rossmoor is a tradition that started just a few months into a worldwide pandemic, after graduation ceremonies and most everything else was canceled for the Class of 2020. 

Four years later, students from the Class of 2024 had their chance to be celebrated in the parade, the first class to emerge from the Covid experience that shaped their high school experience.

“I think we started with something that no one ever endured before (the Covid pandemic) and we were still able to persevere while loving and caring for each other throughout the process,” said Los Alamitos High School senior Dillon Luvben.

Dillon was one of the hundreds of graduates to take part in the fourth annual Graduation Celebration Parade in Rossmoor on June 1. Roughly 700 seniors being towed by cars, military vehicles, trucks, and even boats made their way through Rossmoor on the sunny Saturday morning. An estimated 1,000 people came out to cheer on the graduates, according to the Rossmoor Homeowners Association, which puts on the event. Spectators lined the parade route with signs, pom poms, and bubbles.

“Welcome to the Class of 2024,” said organizer Jo Shade. As a member of the Rossmoor Homeowners Association, Shade worked to get the first parade organized when seniors during Covid were denied many of the traditional graduation ceremonies. Shade has since been elected to the Rossmoor Community Services District.

This year, Shade was able to salute her own daughter Jordan as she marked the milestone of finishing her TK-12 educational experience.

Speaking atop a flatbed truck, Shade instructed the hundreds of cars to tune in to 87.8 on the FM radio dial, a special frequency that allowed everyone lined up for the parade, even those out of earshot of the public address system, to hear the special guest speakers.

The audience of vehicles used their horns to honk the approval of speakers since some were lined up hundreds of feet away from the flatbed.

Standing next to a cadre of elected officials present to congratulate the seniors, Shade first presented an award from Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do’s office to Art Remnet, President of RHA. She also thanked the event’s growing list of sponsors and volunteers and instructed drivers not to exceed more than 7 miles per hour.

Los Alamitos USD leaders, politicians, and community members addressed the seniors and congratulated them on their academic achievement. Pictured from left to right: Seal Beach Police Chief Michael Henderson, Supt. Dr. Andrew Pulver, Cypress Council member Frances Marquez, Assemblymember Tri Ta, Los Alamitos USD Board member Chris Forehan, RCSD Board member and parade organizer Jo Shade, Los Alamitos USD board member Marlys Davidson, LAHS Principal Christiana Kraus, Joint Forces Training Base Commander Lt. Col. Dan Fox, Los Alamitos USD Board President Meg Cutuli, Congresswoman Michelle Steel, Rossmoor Homeowners Assn. President Art Remnet and State Sen. Janet Nguyen. Photo by David N. Young.

Lt. Col. Dan Fox, the new commander of the Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, served as Grand Marshal of this year’s parade. He was accompanied by his wife, Cassandra.

“Good morning,” said Col. Fox, “my wife Cassandra and I wish to congratulate you on your graduation. We encourage you, on behalf of the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, to hold on to the values that have gotten you this far,” he said.

“You’re going to need them as you move up in the world,” said Col. Fox. Shade also presented Col. Fox with a certificate from Supervisor Do’s office.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Congresswoman Michelle Steel to graduates. I know all of you are going to be successful,” she said.

“You can do the impossible,” urged State Senator Janet Nguyen, who said she has attended every single Senior Parade in Rossmoor. “Make sure you also thank your parents, because without them you would not be here today,” she said. “Have fun,” she added.

“This is a day you will remember for life,” Assemblymember Tri Ta told the graduates, adding that “this community is here for you.” He also thanked the dedication of the teachers and parents.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something,” said Cypress Council member Frances Marquez. “If you have a goal, work hard and you will achieve it,” she said.

Students wave to people cheering along the parade route in Rossmoor. Photo by David N. Young.

“This is really a parade of love and I hope you can feel our entire community wrapping their arms around you because we are so proud of you,” Los Alamitos USD Superintendent Andrew Pulver, Ed.D., told the students before the parade began. “We love you and it doesn’t end here. There’s going to be thousands of people over in the streets and we’re all here just to say we love you. Go, Griffins, Class of 2024,” Dr. Pulver said.

“We started this year with the theme to ‘Extend What’s Possible’ and Class of 2024, you have not disappointed in all aspects,” said Los Alamitos High School Principal Christiana Kraus.

In fact, for the second year in a row, Los Alamitos High School had a 100% graduation rate.

“You extended even more than possible,” Kraus said, “with the care, the kindness, and the compassion that this class has brought to each other.”

“Everywhere you go, you leave it better,” she said. “We love you and I truly love you.”

Seniors Reflect 

It was evident that Covid had made a mark on some of the students. In interviews, they spoke about the greatest challenges and traits of the Class of 2024.

“I think the best thing about the class of 2024 was how connected we were; so meshed together in this new situation. But we learned to grow together and bonded. We are very loving and connected as a whole,” senior Dillon Luvben said.

“I think the best thing about the class of 2024 is that we’re persevering, we’re super kind and considerate and we’re ready to go off to college. We’re excited,” said Jake Dingillo. “Four years of high school, we got through it and it was well worth it.”

Senior Allie Perez shared that a challenge her classmates might face is underestimating the value of advice from older generations. “I think a lot of people think they know more and don’t pay attention to the rules or advice, but I think that’s all young people,” she said.

Some had more practical responses that seemed to reflect the immense demands of being a student in 2024. Juggling academics, extracurricular activities, and spending time with family and friends, all while figuring out what your next chapter will be.

“I feel like time management is the greatest challenge to the class of 2024. I think that a lot of us do not know how to manage our time properly and we get ahead of ourselves,” said Brianna Bercian.

Graduate Owen Gooch said it would be a challenge for this year’s class to find their way in this world but he expressed confidence in his classmates. 

“I think personally that the biggest challenge is going to be finding our places in the world. We have a really special class with a lot of great people, and I think everyone here is going to be able to succeed in that,” Owen said.

See more pictures from the parade on the Rossmoor Homeowner Association's website.

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