Da Vinci Charter Academy awards 85 diplomas in ceremony that was reflective, and a tad irreverent

16-06-2019 02:06

Da Vinci Charter Academy’s graduation ceremony — held Thursday evening in the North Gym at Davis High School — didn’t begin with words from the principal. Instead, the opening welcome came from graduating seniors Luke Samuel Demeter-Willson and Caleb Robert Hart, both wearing caps and gowns, who told a few (well rehearsed) jokes, and then introduced singers Emily Landerman, Sophie Segal and Anna Sutton of Davis High’s Advanced Treble Choir, who sang the national anthem.

Next came student speaker Natalie Vinh, who related how she’d come to Da Vinci at the beginning of her senior year, and realized she’d come to “a school like no other … I had the time of my life this year … now it’s time to move on, to new adventures.”

At this point, Da Vinci principal Tyler Millsap was introduced. He encouraged the graduating seniors to “reflect on the moment, and celebrate the possibilities of the future.” Millsap acknowledged that some students have been “itching and scratching with senioritis,” but advised them that they “may look back one day in appreciation… Graduation encourages reflection, and reflection encourages gratitude,” he said.

Millsap reminded students that “trying and failing is part of the learning process, and trying again can be one of the best parts of learning.” Millsap also said “Thank you for being skeptical and challenging our staff.” And Millsap thanked the students for being “leaders in advocating for our school.”

Many Da Vinci students addressed the Davis school board during the opening months of the year, respectfully yet pointedly urging revisions to the school district’s facilities master plan to speed up modernization of Da Vinci’s Valley Oak campus, built in the 1950s. The school board approved the revisions.

Millsap also noted that the Class of 2019 had compiled “the highest attendance rate” in the school’s history. And Milsap mentioned research-and-presentation activities like World War I Night (which plunged Europe into the nightmare of trench warfare) and 1929 Night (when the Roaring ’20s came to a screeching halt, and the Great Depression began).

“We’re grateful that you decided to do high school a little differently …” Millsap said. And moments later, the North Gym echoed with the sound of the 1975 disco hit “Do The Hustle” by Van McCoy, with Milsap and the Da Vinci teachers dancing on the dais in a tightly choreographed routine, as a group of students did the same on the gym floor. (This year’s graduates were born roughly a quarter-century before “Do The Hustle” was a hit on the charts.)

Two student awards were announced — the Da Vinci Booster Award, and the Da Vinci Compass Award — and both went to Sarah Oide.

School board member Bob Poppenga’s remarks focused on Leonardo da Vinci, a Renaissance polymath whose interests included invention, drawing, painting (including the famous Mona Lisa), architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature and more. Poppenga quoted the great man’s observation regarding the variation in human perception: “There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.” Poppenga added that 2019 is the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s passing in 1519.

Poppenga also praised Da Vinci Charter Academy’s tradition of screening a brief video created by each of the graduating seniors, just before that student is handed a diploma. This “15 seconds of fame” is extrapolated from artist Andy Warhol’s 1968 remark that “In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Given that 15 minutes per student would make for a very long graduation ceremony, Da Vinci settled on a 15 second video when the tradition began over a decade ago.

Some of the 85 videos at Thursday’s graduation ceremony were humorous or hyperactive, others were sentimental montages of old photos, and a few invoked the spirit of the Dada Movement (which flourished during and after World War I, when artists created provocatively absurd works in response to the violence of the war.)

One such video was by graduate Luke Samuel Demeter Willson  (a 1-second piece consisting of the word “Hi!”), another was by Kian Douglas Barbieri (in which he announced he would “do nothing for 15 seconds,” and proceeded to keep his word.)

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055.

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Da Vinci Charter Academy, Class of 2019:

Luis Deigo Acevedo, Eric Edquardo Aguilar, Riz Joezer O Aldas, Valerie Yates Alden, Emma Christine Arntzen, Kian Douglas Barbieri, Nathan Andrew Bitners, Angelina Trinity Boggess, Ramiro Rafael Cabanillas-Ledesma, Alissa Summer Casillas, Nicholas Inal Cheuquian, Hadley Nichole Citron, Blayne Thomas Clegg-Swann, Ross Andrew Cowden, Yemile Cristano Duran, Avery William Cross, Grany Reid Ladd Cubberly, Neil Kumar Das, Alexandra Lauren Del Toro, Chase DeMasi, Luke Samuel Demeter Willison, Stephen Nicholas Donecker, Duncan Mathew Fox Tierney, Gabriel Victor Gomez, Paola Feliciano Gonzalez, Alissa Sophia Hanick, Natalie Micaela Haro, Caleb Roberts Hart, Cole Sebastian Hein,

Margaret Isabel Hernandez, Kayden J Hoal, Grace Lynn Hoff, Walker Evan Holmes, Katelyn Marie Hooberry, Eleanor Mikaila Jacobo Becker, Juan Jimenez, Autumn Hope Johnson, Grace Nicole Johnson, Sofia Isidora Kaloper, Aleksei Nolasco Kaufman, Benjamin Kimmel, Andrew Campbell Knox, Joshua Charles Kumler, Noa Ariel Lipson, Natassja Olimpia Severina Maggi, Avery Sekaye Marsh, Jamie Luis Daniel Martinez Roca, Anant Panayach Mashiana, Katherine Ruth Ann Mayne, Samuel Austen McGlynn, Cai Antonio Michel, Isabella Goodspeed Moore, Brinley Diane Morris, Dora Jakab Nagy, Grace Nielsen, Makayla Katyanna Nordgren, Jereme David Nunes, Sara Mayumi Oide,

Karolina Mae Perkins, Amy Garnet Phinney, Olivia Loren Quesada, Grace Kelly Range, Nathan Matthew Reed, Bailey Stephen Robinson Burmester, Liam Thomas Roy, Dedrick Michael Sanchez-Lozano, Noah Gabriel Raposa Sharp, Aiyana Sopheary Shaw, Haddi Parker Yakzan Shaw, Samantha Gray Sheridan, Nathanael Conrad Simon Siegel, Ismaaeel Mohammad Tahir, Charlie Teresi, Jackson Leif James Terning, Izabella Helene Terry, Skyler Mary Thiessen, Marissa Jean Thompson, McKella Jade von Boxtel, Nicholas Joseph Vatuone, Natalie Oanh Vinh, Alexander Daniel Weinshilboum, Kailen Williams Wyatt, Rebecca Zo Wittman, Maxwell Ethan Woodland, Andrianna Marie Young.