From the desk of Dr. Tuin

This main event this week was no doubt Graduation. Our seniors took front and center, literally, on our turf field in Northrop Stadium. There is always so much anticipation for the actual ceremony, that it is kind of a serial feeling going through it. Even though I have been through many over the years, the sensation is similar each time, including this past Tuesday. What was different for me was the finality of this graduation, which put me in the same position as our seniors.

As a participant and leader in the ceremony, I appreciated all the hard work put in by so many to organize and prepare for the event. That doesn’t even include the individual speakers, singers, and musicians who spent significant time preparing for their contribution. I was so proud of how our students and teachers performed during their individual segments. The crowd was responsive and supportive with everyone focused on the hundreds of main events, that moment when a name was announced, and students received their diplomas. (At least a diploma cover until next week.)

Each speech was creatively and thoughtfully crafted by our student speakers Timothy Evans, Pamela Ucieda, Adrian Ucieda, and John Nguyen. Ms. Angie Soriano also offered some inspiring words as the 2023 Teacher of the Year. These were in addition to the singers and musicians who graced our ceremony with their beautiful music. The Tustin High School Band set the tone of the evening with a traditional graduation processional, followed by Ashley Bahena who offered her impressive rendition of the National Anthem. Zamira Karim and Laila Jones both added to the emotional ambiance of the evening with their outstanding vocals.

For me, the highlight of the ceremony was shaking hands with the graduates before they returned to their seats. Each handshake represented a story and a future. Our students are so diverse, and each student brings such unique contributions, needs, talents, passions, and aspirations. In the seconds I had for each interaction, so much flashed through my mind and my sincere desire for them to go forth and be blessed in whatever direction they decide to go.

Another highlight of the event was the announcement of two students who somehow managed perfect attendance from kindergarten through senior year. Juan Luis Quintana and Landen Pulsifer were the two and ironically enough both students were assigned seats right next to each other based on the alphabet, Landen being the last “P” and Juan being the first “Q”. Another amazing fact is that Landen is the last of five children in the Pulsifer family to accomplish such a remarkable feat. His four sisters all did the same thing before him here at Tustin High School. (Stephanie 2014, Jaeden 2019, Kylie 2020, and Holly 2021)

I thought the week was going to be kind of a wind down to the whole year, but little did I know others had different plans. Yesterday, I was surprised by an overwhelming display of affection at a “retirement party” attended by students, staff, teachers, parents, community people, and district leaders, and led by the new principal, Dr. Heather Bojorquez. It was a special time that touched me deeply, and it reminded me of what a privilege and honor it has been to serve such an amazing school community.

It was difficult to articulate my thoughts yesterday when it was my turn to speak. I couldn’t help but think that all the kind gestures and thoughts expressed communicated much more about the people delivering than anything to do with myself. I did manage to talk about an interaction I had with one student at the Hello, Goodbye Assembly. I think it is an important story because it was a reminder that we just never know the impact of our words and actions. It is easy to lose energy and around being kind when it isn’t reciprocated. This whole year, I greeted one young lady each morning, as I did with hundreds of other students. She often had a scowl and rarely made eye contact. I felt like my warm greeting was at best annoying to her. Only a couple of times the whole year did she even offer any sort of a response, and even then, it felt begrudgingly delivered. Fast forward to the assembly, and to my shock, I saw this young lady walking towards me with a flower, lots of tears, and a genuine smile. I had no idea my greetings were an encouragement. I thought about all the times I was tempted to let it go and not waste my energy. What a missed opportunity that would have been. We don’t always get clarity on the extent of our impact, so I appreciated the assembly experience. It was a great reminder to me and all of us that it is important that we don’t grow weary of doing good. I don’t always get it right, but I try. I know that is the same for everyone. Hang in there. You never know how your efforts to help, challenge, encourage and support will impact others.

As if the week wasn't emotional enough for me, my daughter went into labor yesterday and delivered a 3rd grandchild, Quinton Alan. My wife and I got to visit her, her husband, and Quiton last night around 7:30pm. I couldn’t help but think about little Quinton and my other two grandchildren. They are going to grow up and eventually attend school, even high school. I hope they each have the opportunity to attend a school like Tustin High School. A school where students have the opportunity to be challenged, connected, and prepared for a variety of trajectories after high school. A school where people take pride in the community and show compassion for one another. A school where differences are valued, and dreams are fostered into concrete plans. A school where the norm is respect, engagement, and determination. I will miss the people here at Tustin High School, and I have so much gratitude for the opportunity to serve this amazing community as principal. Life isn’t always easy, but it is good, and it is great to be a Tiller.

Go Tillers!

Dr. Jon Tuin

Tustin High School Principal

Because this is the last Friday Reflection as a high school principal written over the past 13 years, (I didn’t start until my second year as principal) and all my Reflections over the past 5 years were put into a bound binder, this one ends with . . .