News Article

Unique Graduation Ceremony Celebrated Seniors

Event Held at Ventura County Fairgrounds

Oaks Christian School held a unique graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. 

(Story continues below photos. Wait for fade or click arrows to advance. Link to full ceremony also below.)

Like everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to get creative on how to celebrate the Class of 2020. Previously, the school had planned for an outdoor ceremony on the football field on Aug. 3, but that was disallowed due to the county’s mandates against school gatherings. Due to a last minute cancellation, the Ventura County Fairgrounds became available as the new venue for the OCS graduation ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 2.

With a stunning coastal backdrop and the Southern California sunset, the event was both beautiful and memorable. The grounds are equipped for large scale, drive-in events, such as concerts, and feature full stages, multiple jumbo media screens, and specialized lighting.

Families took to social media to express their reactions to the one-of-a- kind ceremony:

"Kids and parents will never forget this beautiful commencement ceremony you were able to make happen against all odds! Thank you thank you thank you. Well worth the wait," said Tanya Soler.

Gary Nepa said: "OC knocked it out of the park tonight. Thank you to the entire staff for the effort put forth to provide the class of 2020 a wonderful celebration."

Adding to the praise was Lisa Adkins, who felt the evening exceed expectations: "What a great night, better than anyone could have imagined! Thank you to our amazing Oaks Christian School!"

"We have been blessed to be part of the wonderful community of OCS for ten years and the love OCS showed and poured into these students tonight was truly beautiful," said Brandy Lazar.

Families stayed near their vehicle, either inside or on lawn chairs as their seniors walked across the stage to hear their name called and their diploma awarded. Seniors also received a Bible with their name inscribed on the cover and with beautiful,hand-drawn calligraphy done by Art Teacher Don Trimble. Head of School Rob Black also included a special note.
Instead of the usual applause, whoops, and hollars, families laid on the car horn loud and long as their student's name was called, and for each award recipient.

With a cumulative 4.72 GPA and 17 advanced placement and honors courses, Benjamin Chung was the class valedictorian, attending University of Santa Barbara as a math major. Salutatorian Jordan Youhanaie will attend UCLA majoring in math.

OCS History Teacher and Director of the Institute of Global Leadership Matt Hurdle was the recipient of the High School Atsinger Teaching Excellence Award, i.e., the teacher of the year.

The keynote address was delivered by History Teacher Jeff Dewey, the 2019 teacher of the year.

Student award winners were:

David Gabertan - Weinberg Spiritual Leadership Award
Mikayla Erlenborn - Jefferson Lee and Brendan Thomas Crockett Courage Award
Alex Lockrey - David Price Leadership Award
Asher Oyelowo - Dallas Price-Van Breda Artistic Award
Charlie Newman - Head of School Award
Skylar Maio - Unsung Hero Award

The full ceremony can be viewed HERE. The Acorn Newspaper story can be read HERE.