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When 487 Venice High School seniors march on to the football field tonight to cap off four years at Venice High School, the field will be lined with dozens of teachers, aides, coaches, administrators, cafeteria workers, and maintenance people celebrating them and saying goodbye. 

All these invaluable people who taught them, mentored them, cooked their meals and shaped them in ways invisible to parents, will be on the sidelines again after the ceremony to welcome the graduates into the community of adults. 

It’s a Venice High School tradition that never fails to move me, regardless of whether I have an offspring among the graduates.

While there will be dozens of area high school graduations this week, Venice is unusual in that we have one public high school and it dates to the 1920s. The feeling of community and connectedness is palpable during graduation.

In the stands and on the sidelines tonight, there will be generations of Venice High alumni swelling with pride over the graduates, and not just their own children. You get to know and love the many kids who grow along with your own. You become vested in their future. That’s community.

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Earlier this week, a new tradition unfolded as Venice High seniors jaunted to the campus next door and practiced their graduation walk in front of Venice Elementary students. Many of the seniors had spent hours of the school week volunteering. 

 “Our proximity to VHS gives us a continual positive happening,” says Venice Elementary School acting principal Al Bezilla. “There are students trained at Venice High that come to our classrooms to work with their former teachers.”

They also coach, mentor and teach the younger ones how to read. 

It’s a beautiful new tradition and another link that binds us as a community.

Thanks to all of you who brought the graduates to this day. Congratulations Class of 2016!

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