More than 200 Berkeley High School students received certificates of excellence from Mayor Tom Bates Tuesday, June 3, in the seventh annual student recognition ceremony.
The tradition, begun in 1996 by former Mayor Shirley Dean, honors students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, citizenship or perseverance.
Recognized students were nominated by any Berkeley High teacher, many of whom were present at the ceremony.
The students, along with their parents, siblings and friends, easily filled the tent set up in the courtyard of the Radisson Hotel at the Berkeley Marina, leaving much of the crowd standing outside. In his opening address, Bates said he was overwhelmed by the turnout.
The Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble’s trio opened the evening.
After a brief welcome from Bates, keynote speaker John Sasaki took the stage. Sasaki, a KTVU reporter and 1985 Berkeley High graduate, drew on his experiences from Berkeley High, especially his performances in school plays and role as a founding member of the school’s men’s lacrosse program.
“When you add my acting and my leadership and my general obnoxiousness as a student, you get a fairly successful news reporter,” Sasaki said. “You all have found a niche yourselves, and that is something to be admired and honored.”
Sasaki encouraged the students to continue to pursue activities they have passion for, no matter where those activities might lead them.
“Very few successful people dislike what they do,” he said, citing actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, football star Jerry Rice and Bates as examples.
Unlike in past years, students did not walk to the stage to accept their awards due to space constraints; they instead waved acknowledgment from their seats when their names were called.