Cerritos High celebrates 50 years as an educational institution
California 72n/a District Assembly Janet Nguyen with proclamation at Cerritos High Principal Patrick Walker during the 50th matinee last Saturdaye anniversary opening ceremonies.
April 1, 2022
By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter
Last Saturday was a day to be a Don for former and current students, faculty and staff as Cerritos High celebrated its 50e anniversary. For four hours, it was an opportunity to dive back into the past and see what high school life was like.
“I was hoping to be there when I got hired, not that I was necessarily doing the math to know when the 50e [anniversary] was coming,” Cerritos manager Patrick Walker said. “But I always said I hoped to be at this school for a very long time. The moment I got the job; certainly, the first year, I fell in love with the students, the staff and the community. It’s just a great place to work; a great place to be.
The day began with a 30-minute ceremonial opening and welcome by Walker, the school’s eighth principal who is tied with Stan Steddom (1979-1988) for the longest tenured principal in school history. school. The Spangled Banner star was played by former student and Broadway actor Anthony Chatmon II.
Then came the presentations of what Walker called the “Don Dignitaries”, which included, among others, California 72n/a Janet Nguyen, District Assembly Member, Grace Hu, Cerritos Mayor, Pro Tem Chuong Vo, Cerritos Council Member Frank Yokoyama, ABC Unified School District Superintendent Mary Sieu, ABCUSD President Soo Yoo, Member from the ABCUSD Board of Directors Ernie Nishii, former Cerritos manager Jeff Green, former athletic director Dennis McReynolds and his wife Joan and former ABCUSD student and superintendent Dr. Gary Smuts who was the keynote speaker.
Smuts read part of a note from a former student and athlete he kept for over 40 years who wanted to kill himself but through conversations he had with Smuts changed his mind. Smuts then read a small portion of another note from another former student and athlete who was going through tough times.
After the speech, a video directed by Jason Watanabe, Class of 1999 alumnus and current MUN teacher and cross country and track and field head coach, titled “I am a Don” was released. He showed clips of life at Cerritos High over the past 50 years.
“It is truly a blessing to work for my alma mater,” Watanabe said. “Not only are you able to have a greater connection with your students, but it also pushes you even more to try harder in everything you do. I participated in high school, and that makes me even more proud of the work I do.
Watanabe was part of the planning committee for the 50e anniversary festivities, which he called an honor, and added that at the beginning he really wanted to connect with those who made the school what it is today with those who are currently at Cerritos High.
The opening ceremony ended with a closing statement from Walker before Chatmon asked the crowd to sing the alma mater with him.
“One of the things we were able to accomplish, surprisingly so it hadn’t been done in a while, was being honored with the California Distinguished School Award,” Walker said. “It’s the highest honor a public school can receive. When we got it in 2019, it was the first time in 23 years that we won this award. »
In his early days as principal, Walker recalls being asked by the school newspaper, The Informer, about his goals. He responded by saying he was amazed that Cerritos High hadn’t won this award for a long time.
He went on to say that the school has great activities, great artists, great athletes, great scholars and he is humbled by them every year, just their talent and intelligence.
“I have to say another big achievement for us that I didn’t think we would ever see was a 605 League title in football,” he continued. “It was pretty exciting too.”
Looking to the near future, Walker said he was excited about the BB bond measure and the physical plant upgrade, which will begin this summer. Also, just north of the gymnasium will be a new science building, which he says is long overdue. All classrooms will be upgraded to 21st capabilities of the century.
After the opening ceremony, several groups, the Cerritos High Pep Squad and Dance and Drill teams performed in the quad. There were play stalls and food trucks on the paved area and at various places on the quad you could meet and greet the teachers. In the east gymnasium there were displays of sporting artifacts and in the rear of the administration building there were posters of the decade.