The Student News Site of Gabrielino High School

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Chasing the sun: seniors embrace their final year together

   At 5:45 am, the sun is still asleep behind the San Gabriel Mountains, and the air is fresh with a gentle coolness. Arcadia County Park is usually still at this hour, the morning dew resting undisturbed on the grass until daylight. Today, however, hundreds of Gabrielino High School seniors are eagerly tromping through the field, laying their blankets over the damp earth.

   They gather for Senior Sunrise, a tradition held by ASB for the graduating class to mingle and mark the beginning of their last year in high school. Seniors share their sentimental yet excited feelings as they literally and metaphorically welcome the dawn of a new era.

   “It’s very calm,” described senior Abbygail Chai. “I’ve never woken up early for something like this. But I’m glad I did.”

   By six in the morning, friend groups have clustered together, and couples are cuddling on mats. Bursts of laughter and the bumping beat of pop and rap songs on the speakers punctuate the chatter of people’s conversations.

   “It’s very bittersweet,” noted Rosie Ojeda. “I feel like I am enjoying the moments right now, and it still hasn’t hit yet that I’m an actual senior and I’m not gonna be in high school next year.”

   Ojeda is not alone. Just as fleeting as the soft early morning light are the moments of contentment while the rest of the world is a distant thought. Yet, the freedom of being the only ones in the park and the comfort of sharing the moment with one’s closest friends soothes the pangs of nostalgia. 

   “The senior events are such special moments,” shared Katherine Milburn. “These are the last moments with your friends before you’re done and you move on.”

   As the sky lightens to a hazy purple, a line forms for the bagels and coffee provided by ASB. Munching on mouthfuls of sour cream cheese, salty everything toppings, and fluffy donuts, the seniors wait for the curtains of daylight to open.

   “I’m the Senior Class President this year, so for me especially, it feels surreal that I’m starting my last year,” reflected Ashley Lau. “With all the behind-the-scenes planning with ASB, it’s good to see that Senior Sunrise and all the senior events are coming together.”

   Like cotton candy melting on a child’s tongue, at 6:30, the cool mist gives way to a bright orange light as the sun peeks over the horizon. As people bask in the warm glow of sunrise, colorful cardboard cutouts pose as props in iPhone photos.

   Behind the familiar rhythm of Taylor Swift songs is the clicks of Polaroid and disposable camera shutters. Joining them is Keen Lai’s professional camera as he squints to capture large friend groups.

   “I take pictures out of service,” Lai said determinedly. “The same reason why Key Club and ASB are around is the same reason why I take photos.”

   Capturing these last moments of youth is especially important as the class of 2024 faces adulthood. Looking back on their journeys, many seniors felt they grew more confident and willing to reach out in high school.

   “The advice I’d give to my younger self is [you only live once],” said Isabella Angiuli with a smile. “Do the best you can, and if you don’t, it’s okay. And don’t overthink everything, it’s not that big of a deal.”

   For most, thinking about the future feels daunting yet hopeful. But with the clear blue sky comes the equally clear realization that changes are as inevitable as the sun rising each day. 

   “I get a little nervous,” admitted Jocelyn Gu. “But I try to remind myself that I should just do the best that I can in regards to my future, and after that, it’s out of my hands.”

   As people wave goodbye to their friends, the feeling that lingers is best summed up by Adriana Lucas: growing up is not the end. It is just the beginning.

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About the Contributors
Sophia Pu
Sophia Pu, Editor in Chief
Sophia Pu is the Editor in Chief for the school newspaper, marking her fourth year with the team. Outside of her editorial duties, Sophia is involved in Speech and Debate and enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time in nature. Her commitment to the newspaper grew from a passion for interviewing a diverse range of individuals she might not have interacted with otherwise.
Bren Belmonte
Bren Belmonte, Staff Writer
Bren Belmonte is a Photographer and Staff Writer with three years of experience on our newspaper team. Outside of journalism, Bren enjoys cosplaying, photographing friends, reading manga, watching anime, and listening to music. Bren chose the journalism class in sophomore year after encouragement from family members in the industry. Since then, they've recognized it as a future passion and career interest.
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