Nearly 1,500 students and teachers found space to sit and stand in the South Pasadena High School gym Wednesday for the year-end final assembly that featured a kind of controlled, gleeful madness.
“These assemblies are great,” SPHS band teacher Howard Crawford said just outside the gym as a stampede of seniors blew past, finding a place to rest on the gym floor as tradition would have it. “It’s a big celebration. It’s the end of the school year. The last school assembly. I love it.” Crawford was trying to be heard above the crowd noise and the beating of the drums that shook the gym’s rafters.
“I’ve been here for 29 years,” Crawford was now yelling. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
That sentiment echoed throughout the 60-minute ceremony that featured student dancers, student singers, a student comedienne, student awards, a student jazz/pop combo session and the acknowledgement of retiring teachers.
One such English teacher, Kim Kadletz, said in her 15 years she has never had any issues with the students at South Pasadena High School. In fact, just the opposite. She said the past 15 years have been the best years of her life.
“It’s a fantastic time of year and this is a fantastic school,” Kadletz said after the ceremony was over. “I have been in public education for 35 years and I’ve taught here for 15 years, and this simply is the best school. I have never had any problems with any of the students. Ever.”
As she looks ahead, she said public education needs parental involvement to be successful.
“And that is not a problem here,” she said. “The parents here are more than involved. They help make this the best school.”
Chinese teacher Melissa Cheng agreed, saying the assembly is fun, pointing to her 10th grade son, Charles Liu, who was seated in the bleachers.
“I am very grateful for this school,” she said. Cheng also said that this Thursday she was going to be honored by the School District for being a teacher for 10 years.
“They (school officials) are going honor those with five years, 10 years and so on,” Cheng said during the boisterous ceremony.
The emcee of the noisy, joyful ceremony was soon-to-be New York bound 17-year-old Anders Keith. He was charged with keeping the chaos somewhat controlled as he moved the ceremony from one scene to the next. Keith said the last assembly of the school year of 2018 was successful.
“I really liked it,” he said. “I thought it kept the traditions, everything was in order.” Keith, who is graduating in June, is heading to the world-renowned Julliard School as an acting student.
“Yep, I want to be an actor,” he said. But for now, he was cleaning up after the assembly.
“You know, if this was my last assembly, I would have loved it.” Them he remembered that it was his last assembly. “I thought it was great,” he said with a smile.