Seniors Savor the Last Bell

Paly Seniors Convene for a Memorable Celebration before Spirited Paper Toss


In a sea of signature camouflage, the class of 2023 filled the quad for a Senior Celebration marked by pride, humor, and a bit of nostalgia. A rite of passage for Paly students, Senior Celebration brings together graduating seniors on the last day of classes of the school year for a festival of musical performances, speeches, and revelry. The capstone is the highly anticipated paper toss carried out with remarkable precision to mark the final bell, signaling the end of classes.

At the tail end of a busy time of the year, Paly seniors view the celebration as a way to hit pause and take stock of their high school experiences with friends. Seniors are coming off finals, AP exams, and the whole college decision process and graduation sneaks up on you. Senior Celebration gives students a chance to soak in the final days at Paly and reflect on what it means to be on the cusp of graduation and this next stage of life.

Highlights of this year’s celebration included performances by ACT of “Blue Sky on Mars,” Vikapella’s rendition of “Finesse by Bruno Mars and “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, as well as Ariel Hong’s solo of “Almost There” written by Randy Newman for Disney’s film, The Princess and the Frog. 

The musical performances captured both the nostalgia and the anticipation felt by graduating seniors. Disney’s “Almost There” is a song that celebrates the hard work involved in reaching a goal. There were upbeat songs that made you want to dance, but also music with lyrics that made you think about the moment we are in today.

And it wasn’t just student voices that dominated this year’s Senior Celebration. Paly favorite, Eric Bloom, head of the school’s Social Justice Program and beloved social studies teacher, took center stage to wild applause from the Class of ’23. With inspiration taken from the 26th and youngest president in our nation’s history, Bloom reminded students about the importance of making mistakes. 

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed,” said Bloom quoting President Theodore Roosevelt.

If seniors want to remember Bloom in all his Paly glory, check out page 39 of the yearbook. Spoiler alert: Bloom is striking a wild pose and owning his inner zombie as part of the teacher’s Spirit Week dance. You must give Bloom credit for going all-in.

Senior Victoria Senderzon, winner of this year’s ultra-competitive Elimination, had the last word. In remarks that were both heartwarming and humorous, Senderzon reflected on her learnings from AP History.

“I learned about a lot of fascinating, fun facts including that President Calvin Coolidge took a nap every single day because he said he couldn’t mess anything up while he was asleep, which is really good advice except for when you wake up from your nap to see it’s just you and your teacher on zoom,” quipped Senderzon. She warmly acknowledged, “we’ve all been there.”

In what students will surely remember as a defining moment of their lives, the pandemic and remote school influenced this graduating class of seniors in profound ways. Perhaps most importantly in its appreciation for the freedom to be together in person.  

After chanting, “SKO Vikes!” in decibels that rival cheering at Paly football games, the seniors triumphantly threw an endless stream of papers into the air. The papers danced high above the senior platform with a freedom and whimsy that perfectly captures the spirit of the class of 2023.