Immaculate Heart Graduation Ceremony Honors Class of 2024 at Hollywood Bowl

Immaculate Heart's 123 graduates shined at the high school's graduation ceremony on June 4 at the Hollywood Bowl. Photo credit: Heidi Eligio

Under the lights of the iconic Hollywood Bowl, 123 seniors received their diplomas in front of family, friends and faculty at Immaculate Heart High School's graduation ceremony on June 4. At the end of the evening, dressed in white and holding red roses, the students joined the ranks of more than 11,000 graduates in the school's history.

It was also an evening full of emotional memories, starting with the speech by high school graduate Sophie Stuecken, who recalled how she and her classmates spent their first year in their bedrooms during the pandemic – and yet formed a close community.

“We were all isolated, but at the same time, we were all together. I started my high school years online and I was never happier,” she said. “Because even in difficult times, IH made me feel like I belonged. It was a resilient community, something we all needed to navigate a world full of uncertainty and fear.”

As class representative, high school graduate Sophie Stuecken spoke about the strong community she experienced at Immaculate Heart. Photo credit: Heidi Eligio

This community of sisterhood has only grown stronger over the past four years, the student said. “As we leave this stage tonight and enter a world of unpredictability, we know that we will always have a home, we will always have a family, and we will always have each other,” said Stuecken, who will attend the University of California, Davis in September.

In her first appearance on the Bowl stage since her own graduation from Immaculate Heart University, actress and singer Lucie Arnaz was moved to tears as she watched the graduates walk to their seats before delivering a graduation speech filled with inspiration and a touch of humor.

Lucie Arnaz, Immaculate Heart graduate, class of 1969, returned to the Hollywood Bowl stage to deliver a stirring commencement speech. Photo credit: Heidi Eligio

“It is an honor to return to my alma mater and give you the farewell you deserve,” Arnaz told the graduating class of 2024. She regained her composure, laughed and said, “I graduated with the class of 1969 – and I still have all my teeth! But my memories of life at Immaculate Heart are vivid and strong. Everything was colorful! Art was revered. Energy – contagious. Women were celebrated. And the uniforms didn't itch!”

Arnaz particularly praised Immaculate Heart's theater club, The Genesians, for giving her an “inspiring start” in the theater scene. Arnaz, the daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, has since acted on and off Broadway, in London and regional theaters across the U.S., and in films. At Immaculate Heart, Arnaz starred in “Oklahoma!” and “The Boyfriend” – and she recalled how proud her parents were. “My mom was so excited that she had this addition built onto the stage front of the auditorium,” she said.

Later, during her penultimate year of college, Arnaz decided to leave campus to work on her mother's television show, but she insisted on continuing her Immaculate Heart classes “so I can graduate with my fellow students here at the Hollywood Bowl — just like you are doing tonight,” Arnaz said, adding, “So I'm pretty shaken up.”

The speaker said she had been thinking about words of wisdom to give to the graduates and had even read books about great commencement speeches that encourage learning how to make the world a better place. “I threw them all away when I finally realized that no one has to tell you. You are graduating from Immaculate Heart!” she said to applause.

“That's what I want to say to all of you tonight: We need you, pandas!” Arnaz said, referring to the school's mascot. “The world needs the women of Immaculate Heart now more than ever. We need everything you've learned here.”

“There are some really big problems out there that need to be solved,” she added. “But consider yourself lucky to have spent the last few years breathing the optimism of this sanctuary of hope. No one was better prepared to tackle the world's problems or bring more compassion to a planet in such great need.”

Arnaz raised her hand in the air and shouted, “So, just get out! Don't even go to the parties, just get out right now! Look around. See what needs to be done and get involved. When you see something needs to be done, don't ask why nobody is doing anything. Say, why don't I do something about it?”

“I believe that you can think like a panda girl – think outside the box. Get creative! Follow your gut – it will never let you down. If you truly believe in your pure heart that something is right, just do it!”

“And when the going gets tough, and it will, remember: You're a panda. Show them what you're made of. You're brave. You're kind. You can be the change you want to see. I say just go out there and follow your bliss. Seriously.”

About Immaculate Heart

Founded in 1906, Immaculate Heart High School & Middle School educates and develops young women in grades 6 through 12 at its location in the Los Feliz Foothills near Griffith Park. The school has a long and successful history and has more than 11,000 graduates. Today's student body of more than 700 young women is both geographically and ethnically diverse, and is comprised of students from across Los Angeles County. Last year, nearly 100 percent of Immaculate Heart graduates matriculated into colleges, including some of the most prestigious schools in the country.