Small classes mean personalized experience for Avalon High grads

The Avalon School Class of 2018 Photo by Patricia Engel, courtesy of Avalon PTA

In just two weeks, the Avalon High School class of 2018 will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas and be officially launched into the world as adults.

For the graduates of Avalon school, the experience has always been special.

Avalon’s school was first established back in the 1920’s and is now one of few schools that offers K-12 instruction, while more populated areas organize students into elementary, middle and high schools. In fact, Avalon School is the only K-12 school in the Long Beach Unified School District.

And, while most graduating classes in California high schools number in the hundreds, Avalon school graduation classes average from 45-65 classmates, according to Avalon School Office Supervisor Carol Henderson.

For Avalon grads, however, the smaller class sizes mean there is plenty of time, and space, for a very personalized experience, she said.

Moreover, few graduation ceremonies can boast of a more iconic venue that the Avalon Casino, as the impressive structure constructed in 1929 by William Wrigley, Jr. provides the backdrop and location for Avalon High School graduation ceremonies.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way as the school opened in 1924, long before the Casino was constructed.

Over time, the Avalon graduating classes have developed a traditional set of festivities that begin a month before graduation and proceed until graduation day.

The senior class ritual began last week with PromWalk, a tradition filled ceremony where students attending the high school prom walked a red-carpet laden pier, supported by their friends and family members.

According to Henderson, the senior class will gather on Friday, June 8, for the traditional senior breakfast, which is not open to the public and limited to the senior class and their parents.

This year’s class of 37 graduates is a bit smaller than usual, but again gives the class more time for bonding and activities together, Henderson said.

In addition, St Catherine’s Catholic Church holds a special Vespers service for the graduates the weekend before graduation.

On graduation day, Avalon School graduates not only have the honor of receiving their diplomas in the Avalon Casino, but each of them gets to show the audience a personal slideshow, explain to the audience what they plan to do after graduation, what colleges they will attend and a few minutes to thank their parents, grandparents and others.

Although Long Beach Unified School District Director of High School instruction, Christopher Brown will be in attendance, Henderson said the graduating class at Avalon also have a tradition of keeping speeches from adults “at a minimum.”

For Avalon, it’s all about the class and attendees are often treated to some truly heartfelt remarks from the graduates as they all get their chance at the microphone.

Henderson said graduation will be held June 14, at 4 p.m. as this year’s Avalon graduates will say their final good-byes to friends and thank you to family.

This year’s Avalon High School graduation ceremony will begin June 14 at 4 p.m. in the Avalon Casino.

The ceremony is open to the public and draws a “standing room only” crowd.


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