Massive surf murals pay homage to Olympic debut, San Clemente surfers

Stroll or ride a bike down a tucked-away San Clemente alleyway and you’ll be greeted by splashes of surf scenes – massive murals paying homage to the sport, it’s upcoming Olympic debut and two local surfers hoping to bring home gold for their country.

The Olympics are approaching and this seaside town wants the world to get stoked on surfing as it is showcased in front of billions who will tune in and learn about the sport.

  • Artist Dana Martino jokes around in front of the surfer she is sketching in to her USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Artist Jeff Lukasik works on his USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Artist Melissa Murphy works on her USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Artist Melissa Murphy works on her USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Artist Melissa Murphy works on her USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Artist Dana Martino’s USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Artist Melissa Murphy drives an electric lift down an alley as she works on her USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Artist Dana Martino uses a picture as inspiration for her USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A smiling anglerfish sits near the bottom of Artist Melissa Murphy’s USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Artist Jeff Lukasik works on his USA Surfing mural in San Clemente, CA, on Monday, June 7, 2021. Murals paying homage to Olympic surfers are popping up throughout the city which is home to USA Surfing, the United States Olympic Committee and ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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USA Surfing, headquartered in San Clemente, teamed up with three surf artists and building owners for the larger-than-life artistic undertaking to highlight surfing in the Tokyo Olympics, as well as two of the athletes – Kolohe Andino and Caroline Marks – who call San Clemente home.

Artists Melissa Murphy, Dana Martino and Jeff Lukasik were selected for the project, which hopefully will get people pumped up for the Olympics and draw them to San Clemente.

Kim Tilly, administrative coordinator for USA Surfing, said the No. 1 question they get from people as the summer games near: Surfing is in the Olympics?

“The city came up with the mural idea and then we just kind of ran with it after that,” she said.

The city funded two of the murals at the cost of $2,500 each through the San Clemente Downtown Business fund aimed at sprucing up the alleyway known as the Downtown Paseos near Del Mar Avenue.

The big blank wall canvases outside of Catalina Liquor and Rocket Fizz were selected as the initial two locations. Sean Rowland, owner of Nomads Hotel, heard about the mural project and jumped aboard for a third, self-funding the venture and selecting Lukasik as the artist.

“It just kind of all organically came together,” Tilly said. “People have been super stoked.”

Especially excited are the artists picked to do the murals, including Lukasik, who grew up in San Clemente surfing the area’s well-known breaks and competing on the amateur circuit in his younger years.

His massive mural on the Nomad’s wall, at 102 Ave. Serra, features vibrant oranges and reds in a sunset with the San Clemente Pier in the background, and a depiction of Marks hitting the lip of a wave and Andino punting to the air, one of his signature moves, on the south-side beach break.

“I just want it to be a very immersive thing. It’s such a big wall, I want people to be able to stand in front of it and feel like you’re in the ocean with these two surfers,” he said. “It just represents San Clemente in a cool way.”

Lukasik has had plenty of time to study his subjects, spending countless hours watching the athletes out at his favorite surf spot, Lower Trestles.

While Marks is originally from Florida, she’s lived locally for about eight years, her family uprooting to San Clemente so she could pursue her pro-surfing aspirations.

Andino was born and raised in San Clemente, surfing popular spots such as T-Street since he was a young kid.

“I’ve watched (Andino) since he was a little kid into this prodigy child and just grow into a powerhouse surfer,” Lukasik said. “I want to represent it very accurately, how he looks in the water.”

Growing up in San Clemente, surfing is everything, but Lukasik said he’s found through his own travels many landlocked people know nothing of the sport.

“With the Olympics, it’s just going to bring it to a wider audience,” he said. “(Surfing) should be represented in the Olympics, it should be cherished, it should be seen. It’s been a long time coming.”

Martino is originally from New Jersey, with years spent in Florida – a nomadic surf traveler who landed in San Clemente two years ago.

The wall she has transformed is at 103 Ave. Del Mar, where she’s incorporated the two surfers split with an American flag in the middle, Andino in a larger barrel and Marks tucked into her wave.

“To be a part of the project is pretty awesome,” she said. “I surf and I paint and it brings it together.”

Her painting is topped with purples, blues and pinks for a colorful sunset, visible to people strolling down Del Mar Avenue, the town’s main drag.

“I wanted it to scream ‘Go USA!’ but I wanted it to be magical too, so it will be inspiring for the youth and all the other groms,” she said. “That’s why I did the sky like that. I’m a colorful artist.”

She’s been able to connect with the community while working on the project the past two weeks.

“During COVID, I didn’t really get to meet and be out with people, this was a great way to be out and in public,” Martino said. “I’ve met a million people since I’ve been working on it.”

One favorite moment: A guy strolling by dropped a $5 and yelled out, “You’re inspiring!”

Martino talked about meeting Marks during her younger years when they both lived in Florida, and how she wanted to add warmer tones to the athlete’s face, but not too much because she’s shaded in the barrel.

She talked about how she hoped people would take selfies in front of the surfers, as if riding the wave with them.

“l like to make it interactive when it’s a large scale like that,” she said. “I just hope it gives people excitement and positive vibes.”

She hopes to be finished by June 14, Flag Day, a fitting holiday to unveil the finished project.

The third artist, Murphy, is a former competitive surfer from Huntington Beach who just finished a massive mural on the side of Surf City Liquor. Her latest project in San Clemente is at Catalina Liquor on a 45-foot-long wall.

Murphy is also known for her collaboration with the county’s Positive Vibes campaign, with 85,000 masks made last year and large bus advertisements showcasing ocean wildlife.

Her latest mural not only depicts the two local athletes sharing a peak near the USA Surfing logo and Olympic rings, but also has ocean wildlife below, making the connection between the sport and the sea.

“I’m going to have surfers popping out of the frame, so it looks dynamic,” she said. “The bottom part (with marine creatures), I just added because I was having fun.”

She marveled at the history of the sport, how far it has come since wave riders would surf on big Balsa boards 100 years ago to being in the Olympics in just a few weeks.

“I’m just excited they can show the world how cool surfing is,” she said. “Now, it’s a serious sport. So it’s cool that it is in the Olympics.”

Former 1st Marine Division general given ‘career ending’ discipline in fatal AAV training accident

A former commanding general of Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Division has been disciplined for failures in training and equipping Marines in a fatal accident off San Clemente Island and will not return to his job as inspector general, Marine Corps officials announced Wednesday, June 9.

Major Gen. Robert Castellvi, whose most recent role had him investigating serious claims of wrongdoing for the Marines Corps at the Pentagon, was suspended as inspector general in May in the wake of a second, broader command investigation following last summer’s training accident in preparation for a September deployment in which nine men died after the amphibious assault vehicle they were in sank in the ocean. Three of the men were from Southern California.

A previous investigation released on March 25 called the accident preventable with a myriad of factors that day and leading up to it contributing, including the poor condition of the AAVs put into use and a lack of training and adherence to standard operating procedures amid the demands of the schedule to get the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit readied for deployment.

The expanded investigation examined how the various elements of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit were pulled together, trained and equipped for deployment.

In a statement, Marine officials said Gen. David Berger found Castellvi “responsible” for his “failure to properly train the Marines and sailors for whom he was entrusted and for the inadequate evaluation of the AAV platoon before it was attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.”

Berger personally counseled Castellvi about his findings, making it part of the two-star general’s permanent record, said Capt. Andrew Wood, spokesman for the Marine Corps. The action will likely be “career ending” and he will never find himself in a position to lead other Marines, Wood said.

Castellvi did not supply a response, Marine officials said.

Castellvi led the 20,000-strong 1st Marine Division from July 2018 until Sept. 22, 2020. He has commanded various units over his 35-plus-year career as an infantry officer.

In a recent roundtable discussion with reporters, Berger said after reading the two investigations by command staff at Camp Pendleton and a Naval Safety Center investigation, he had a “very clear picture all the way up the chain (of command)” and he was going to discuss his opinion of how to handle discipline and changes with Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker before taking action.

Previously, in the first command investigation that came out on March 25, Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific and the senior officer who signed off on that investigation, said though he found that Castellvi “bears some responsibility for the failure” to ensure the Marines were properly trained in escaping a submerged AAV, he did not take administrative or disciplinary action against Castellvi because he was not the on-scene commander for the training and “was not responsible for any failure that occurred after” the expeditionary unit was formed.

During congressional inquiries into training accidents, lawmakers questioned before Castellvi was put on leave why he continued to serve as the inspector general, a roll that conducts investigations for the Marine Corps.

At the same time, the parents of the servicemen who died were demanding more accountability, especially among senior leaders. Starting last week they were notified of Castellvi’s discipline.

Peter Ostrovsky, whose son, Pfc. Jack-Ryan Ostrovsky, 20, from Bend, Ore., was among those who died, received his call on June 4.

While Ostrovsky wasn’t given specifics on the findings that compelled Berger to take the action to discipline Castellvi, he said he was told the next steps include asking Castellvi to retire.

“I’m satisfied that the organization is holding those responsible accountable,” Ostrovsky said, though he added he still has unanswered questions about the condition of the vehicles the men were assigned to use and required training that appears to have not been implemented, which he also brought to a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing in May.

Eleven other Marines along the chain of command of the expeditionary force the men were training with have received or are recommended for administrative or disciplinary actions.

San Clemente council majority declares city a 2nd Amendment Freedom City

San Clemente City Council members declared the city’s support for people’s right to bear arms, but stopped short of labeling the town a “sanctuary city” for the Second Amendment.

For a fourth time in two months, City Councilman Gene James brought a resolution up for the council’s consideration to make San Clemente a Second Amendment sanctuary city, joining the city of Needles which was the first in California to do so early last year. He delayed previous votes for various reasons.

  • Councilman Gene James at a council meeting behind a plastic shield where they later voted to make San Clemente a 2nd Amendment Freedom City, June 1, 2021.
    (Photo by Steven Georges, Contributing Photographer)

  • Jill Waton, a San Clemente homeowner for 36 years, spoke in favor of Councilman Gene James’ ordinance to make San Clemente a 2nd Amendment Freedom City, June 1, 2021.
    (Photo by Steven Georges, Contributing Photographer)

  • Mayor Kathy Ward, left, listens to residents talk about an ordinance to make San Clemente a 2nd Amendment Freedom City, with Councilman Gene James and Councilman Chris Duncan, right, during a council meeting, June 1, 2021.
    (Photo by Steven Georges, Contributing Photographer)

  • Stephanie Jamieson, homeowner for 19 years, speaks to the city council about an ordinance he introduced to make San Clemente O.C.’s first and the state’s second 2nd Amendment Freedom City passed, June 1, 2021.
    (Photo by Steven Georges, Contributing Photographer)

  • Councilman Gene James is congratulated by supporters after an ordinance he introduced to make San Clemente O.C.’s first and the state’s second 2nd Amendment Freedom City passed, June 1, 2021.
    (Photo by Steven Georges, Contributing Photographer)

  • Patricia Boe speaks out against an ordinance to make San Clemente a 2nd Amendment Freedom City during a council meeting, June 1, 2021.
    (Photo by Steven Georges, Contributing Photographer)

  • Barbara Helton, a 12-year resident of San Clemente, speaks out against an ordinance, June 1, 2021, to make San Clemente a 2nd Amendment Freedom City.
    (Photo by Steven Georges, Contributing Photographer)

  • An overflow crowd in a separate room watches the San Clemente council meeting on a screen, June 1, 2021, as the council debates an ordinance to make San Clemente a 2nd Amendment Freedom City.
    (Photo by Steven Georges, Contributing Photographer)

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This time on Tuesday, June 1, dozens packed the overflow area outside City Hall and nearly 40 people spoke for and against the idea – many becoming emotional.

After more than two hours of discussion, the City Council, in a 3-2 vote, passed a resolution supporting gun owners’ Constitutional rights to bear arms, but dropped the term sanctuary city.

Councilwoman Laura Ferguson joined Councilman Gene James, who wrote the resolution, and Councilman Steve Knoblock, who supported James’ effort,  in passing the non-binding resolution, which means it is a symbolic gesture and doesn’t change local laws.

“I’m a big supporter of the Second Amendment,” Ferguson said.

But in voicing her support, she said, “I have an issue with the word sanctuary, it created a lot of panic in the community.”

Knoblock also voiced concern about the “sanctuary” label.

“The phrase has been hijacked in the last few years,” he said, proposing using the words “Freedom City” instead.

He also asserted that there are threats to the Second Amendment.

“Anyone who says the Second Amendment is not under attack are deceiving themselves,” he said. “Totalitarian nations first disarm their populace.”

James changed the wording to: “The city of San Clemente is hereby declared a Second Amendment Freedom City and opposes any effort to eliminate or diminish the Second Amendment.”

In addition, the resolution is supportive of background checks and encourages all firearm owners to complete safety training and ensure guns are safely stored. It also calls for gun owners to teach their children firearm safety. The resolution will now be sent to the California State legislature and to the governor.

Public comments were split nearly equally with 19 people speaking against the resolution and 18 in support.

Those in opposition called the resolution divisive and said it would make the city a sanctuary for gun owners and not for families as the town’s founder, Ole Hanson, intended.

“This will not help businesses. Many have told me they will not come to San Clemente and will take their business elsewhere,” one long-time resident said, saying this wasn’t a local issue. “I’m saddened this is up for discussion. It’s an embarrassment. Let San Clemente be known for the city it is, our seaside charm and small-town values.”

Some in opposition wore orange to support National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Weekend to honor lives taken or forever changed by gun violence.

But others, including military veterans and non-military residents who identified themselves as gun owners, called for a need to show the Second Amendment support.

“I’ve watched California change and it isn’t for the better,” said a woman who identified herself as a 63-year resident and native Californian. “I wonder why these people are so afraid of guns. The criminal, the lawbreakers will not worry that we have strict gun laws and will use their guns freely.

“If someone opens fire, I’m praying to God there will be someone there with their God-given rights that will take the criminal down,” she said. “I hope we have the guts to show California that we appreciate our Constitution.”

James said he sees “our rights being eroded.”

“This is about the right to bear arms, which should not be infringed. The rule of law is being ignored,” he said.

James added that he was sorry about how divisive the topic had become, but added, “Sometimes by hitting arguments head-on, we come out on the other side understanding each other’s points.”

San Clemente wrestling makes it back to CIF-SS finals with a nonstop attitude

COVID-19 gave high school athletes an excuse to relax a little.

There wasn’t going to be any competitions for a while, maybe even a long while. So why not slow down, take a little break?

San Clemente High’s boys wrestling team was not interested.

“COVID actually helped us,” said San Clemente junior Garrett Boyd who wrestles in the 152-pound class. “While other teams were slacking off, we were still working hard.”

But wrestlers were not allowed to get together to wrestle each other, workout together, practice moves and holds together.

How could San Clemente out-work other wrestling teams?

“By texting our guys,” Boyd said. “’Hey, go on a run. Go lift … ‘”

San Clemente lifted itself into the CIF Southern Section Division 3 team dual meet finals. The Tritons are home Saturday, June 5 at 1 p.m. against Royal.

The No. 1-seeded Tritons had a first-round bye then defeated Camarillo 58-10 in the quarterfinals and Chaminade 56-13 in the semifinals. No. 2-seeded Royals also had a first-round bye before beating Bishop Amat 46-29 in the quarterfinals and Aliso Niguel 45-17 in the semifinals.

San Clemente won the CIF-SS Division 4 team dual meet championship last season, the Tritons’ fourth CIF-SS team dual title under Coach Mark Calentino. They previously won team dual championships in 2005, ’07 and ’08.

Other Orange County teams also made it to the finals, which will be held Saturday. Calvary Chapel will wrestle for the Division 2 title against the winner of Wednesday’s Fountain Valley-Northview semifinal. In Division 5, El Modena will be home against Mayfair, and in Division 6 Corona del Mar will be at Western.

San Clemente’s girls wrestling team advanced to the Division 1 team duals quarterfinals against Corona on Wednesday, June 2.

Calentino is in his 31st season as San Clemente wrestling coach. He said that now and then he figures whatever season he’s in is going to be his final season. But something about this season’s wrestlers has him glad he keeps sticking around.

“I open the (wrestling) room and they just go to work and drill,” Calentino said. “I love this group.”

Calentino laid out a challenging schedule for the Tritons, with duals against annually top county teams like Calvary Chapel, which defeated San Clemente, and Esperanza, which the Tritons defeated.

“This is the right group for that,” Calentino said. “They want to achieve that high level of competence.”

Many of Southern California’s top wrestlers traveled around the western United States this school year to compete in non-high school events in states with fewer coronavirus-related restrictions. Boyd wrestled in Arizona, Missouri, Nevada and Utah. He competed in nearly 70 matches.

“My thing was to just keep pushing myself,” Boyd said. “Work my hardest and do the best I can to prepare myself for my senior year and hopefully for college.”

The Tritons get plenty of points from Boyd and fellow juniors Matt Valdez (170 pounds) and Fernando Llanos (220).

Boyd has seen Royal wrestle before.

“They were a strong team with a lot of team camaraderie,” Boyd said. “The way to beat them is to come at them with that same passion.”

Passion for winning is a quality San Clemente’s wrestlers have, whether they can get into their wrestling room or not.

Our favorite graduation photos from June 3 ceremonies in Orange County

Rich Jorris, right, holds a photo of his daughter, Tess, while awaiting the Brea Olinda High School graduation ceremony in Brea on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)
Northwood High School science teacher Jane Yoon gives air hugs to students receiving their diplomas during the Northwood High School graduation ceremony in Irvine on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Travis Guzman, 18, holds a NROTC Scholarship for the University of Arizona during the Laguna Hills High School graduation ceremony in Laguna Hills on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Ares, Contributing Photographer)
A man cheers for his brother as senior graduates make their way to the Trabuco Hills High School graduation ceremony in Mission Viejo on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Ares, Contributing Photographer)
Mathew Blakeborough joins his class as the toss their caps in the air at the end of graduation at San Clemente High School in San Clemente, CA, on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Graduates take a selfie after receiving their diplomas at the University High School graduation ceremony in Irvine on Thursday June 3, 2021. (Photo by Karen Tapia, Contributing Photographer)
Graduates celebrate with a photo during the Aliso Niguel High School graduation ceremony in Aliso Viejo on Thursday, June 3, 2021.(Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)
A recent graduate celebrates after receiving his diploma during the Capistrano Valley High School commencement in Mission Viejo on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)
Senior graduate, Joshua Switzer, holds a NROTC Scholarship for Oregon State University during the Laguna Hills High School graduation ceremony in Laguna Hills on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Ares, Contributing Photographer)
Friends Alyssa Martha and Toby Sparacio hug after receiving their diplomas at the end of Tesoro High School’s Class of 2021 Commencement held in the Tesoro High School, Titan Stadium on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Frank D’Amato, Contributing Photographer)
Principal Monica Colunga, left, gives a fist bump to a graduate during the Irvine High School graduation ceremony in Irvine on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)
Students toss their caps to celebrate after the Northwood High School graduation ceremony in Irvine on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Graduates throw their hats into the air in celebration during the Dana Hills High School graduation ceremony in Dana Point on Thursday, June 3, 2021.(Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)
Graduation speaker Jenna Makarem talks to fellow students during the Woodbridge High School graduation ceremony in Irvine on Thursday, June 3, 2021.(Photo by Greg Andersen, Contributing Photographer)
Mathew Blakeborough moves his tassel during the San Clemente High School graduation in San Clemente, CA, on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Chloe Shepard gets a fist bump from Principal Chris Carter after getting her diploma during the San Clemente High School graduation in San Clemente, CA, on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Trevor Skeffington gives a thumbs up after receiving his diploma during the San Clemente High School graduation in San Clemente, CA, on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Neil Keenan does a little dance after getting his diploma during the San Clemente High School graduation in San Clemente, CA, on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Friends and family wave to seniors during the San Clemente High School graduation in San Clemente, CA, on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Youssef Yassin delivers his commencement speech at graduation ceremonies for Portola High School in Irvine on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)
Graduate Jordan Amlin gets a hug from friend Sarah Ibrahim, right, and sister Madison Amlen, left, after graduation ceremonies for Portola High School in Irvine on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)
Joshua Pendergast, 17, celebrates graduating with a back flip at the Brea Olinda High School graduation ceremony in Brea on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)
Rich Jorris, right, holds a photo of his daughter, Tess, while awaiting the Brea Olinda High School graduation ceremony in Brea on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)
Graduating seniors Kathleen Molina, left, and Sarah Avila, right, stand in front of a 2021 balloon decoration after the Trabuco Hills High School graduation ceremony in Mission Viejo on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Ares, Contributing Photographer)
From right, Bre Thompson lifts her sister Bonnie Ann Selecky after her graduation from Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)
Senior graduates Serina Williams, left, and Kenzie Macare, right, address graduates and attendees during the Laguna Hills High School graduation ceremony in Laguna Hills on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Ares, Contributing Photographer)
Nolan Blancett, 18, waits for his name to be called after receiving his diploma during the Laguna Hills High School graduation ceremony in Laguna Hills on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Ares, Contributing Photographer)
Mission Viejo High School International Baccalaureate Candidates line up to walk onto the stadium field for their graduation ceremony in Mission Viejo on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)
A graduate gets a helping hand from a fellow senior as he tries to put on his mask during the El Toro High School graduation in Lake Forest on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)
Ethan Sena 18, of Brea Olinda High School talks o his cell phone before his graduation ceremony in Brea on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

Thousands of Orange County seniors celebrated the end of their high school careers this week.

The Irvine, Brea Olinda, Capistrano and Saddleback Valley school districts hosted commencement ceremonies at local stadiums, with social distancing, masks and other modifications in place because of the lingering pandemic.  Some even divided graduating classes into multiple ceremonies to keep the groupings smaller.

Graduation season continues in Orange County for two more weeks. Want to see more photos from these ceremonies, or did you miss our coverage last week? See more here.