By Janene Scully, Noozhawk North County Editor

Representing “an amazing amalgamation of talents and abilities, vision and action,” some 211 seniors graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School on Friday, May 31

The late-afternoon ceremony, with speeches by Erinn Callaghan, Juan Sanchez and Lyndsey Hedrick, occurred at Pirate Stadium, where Principal Mark Swanitz spelled out the lengthy list of accomplishments for this year’s graduates.

A “staggering” 157 graduates tackled the most rigorous courses offered by taking at least one Advanced Placement, UC-certified honors, or Allan Hancock College class, and 53 graduates have a weighted grade point average of 4.0 or higher, Swanitz said. 

Class members earned a number of top academic honors, helping lead to them receiving more than $500,000 in scholarships and grants.

Not surprisingly, 92 percent of the class of 2019 will continue their education next fall.

In addition to universities and community colleges, some graduates will attend a trade, technical or vocational school, while two will enlist in the military — one in the Army and one in the Navy.

Class of 2019 members also earned numerous championships and honors in sports, music, Skills USA,  FFA and other competitions during their four years as Pirates.

“Put simply, this class, collectively, is an amazing amalgamation of talents and abilities, vision and action. The measure of a graduating class is more than just facts and figures, however. It also includes such intangibles as the service it provides to the broader community,” Swanitz said. 

This year’s senior class participated in many activities to make the Santa Ynez Valley community a better place, with their activism and service extending beyond the valley and to other countries, the principal said.

“The class of 2019 will, no doubt, make a difference in a world sorely in need of change,” said Swanitz, who graduated from the school with the class of 1985.

“I could go on about their accomplishments, but let me conclude by saying that the students seated before you are true pioneers who represent not only our collective hope for a better future and the best of what it means to be a Santa Ynez Pirate, but the enduring spirit of a school that was founded 123 years ago,” he added.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at