The first graduate class of Huntington Seacliff Elementary School gathered by the pool Tuesday afternoon to reconnect with old friends — not to mention reminisce on their childhood dreams of being rock stars, fashion designers or Olympic figure skaters.
Furthermore, they celebrated being high school graduates.
The Sea Star charter members of Seacliff's student body, who started there as kindergartners in 1999, are among Huntington Beach High School's Class of 2012 set to graduate Thursday.
Two days before they put a cap on their high school careers, they revisited their roots at a party at the SeaCliff Country Club, with their first principal, librarian and several teachers in attendance.
More than that, they got in touch with their childhood goals. On blue sheets of tarp on one of the poolside fences, organizers posted the students' kindergarten head shots along with a section from the fifth-grade yearbook in which they wrote what they wanted to be in 10 years. There were plenty of athletes and musicians, plus the occasional divorce court lawyer or SeaWorld employee.
"I'm excited to enter the next part of my life, but I'm going to miss these people," said Ryan DeSisto, 18. "We'll always be Sea Stars, all of us."
Nearly all the students who started kindergarten in 1999 went through all 13 years of school together, from Seacliff through Dwyer Middle School to Huntington Beach High. Blake Wetzel, 18, said many of the groups of friends from the lower grades have remained close over the years.
Even at the winter formal a few months ago, many former Seacliff students posed together for pictures, she said.
And some, like Wetzel, have gone back to their old grounds to tutor younger students.
"Most of us have stayed really close friends, and even though we have different groups of friends, our core has stayed the same," she said.
When Seacliff opened, it was the city's first new elementary campus in 25 years. Principal Ann Sullivan, who has presided over the school since it opened, said the families of the first group of students were instrumental in getting the school organized. They set up the PTA, provided computers and even landscaped the grounds.
"When you open a brand-new school, it's just an opportunity to set traditions and really develop from the ground up," she said. "It was really a dynamic, exciting time."
Graduation ceremonies for the Huntington Beach Union High School District
The ceremonies for Fountain Valley, Ocean View, Westminster and Valley Vista high schools took place Wednesday. Here are the remaining ceremonies scheduled for this week:
Edison High School
5 p.m. Thursday
Orange Coast College