It was the first day of the rest of their lives. It was the culmination of 13 years of schooling and many more long nights of studying. It was the springboard into their promising future. It was high school graduation.
The festivities on May 31 started when the staff entered the hall to the band fittingly playing “Call of the Champions,” before playing “Pomp and Circumstance” to introduce the graduating class. Directly following was the singing of the National Anthem by the Chamber Singers, which was followed by their rendition of “Imagine.” The performance gave the a capella seniors one last chance to perform and the sentiment of the moment was not lost on them. “It was so sad to see all of my friends go, but it made me so happy to sing with them one last time,” junior Acabella Amritha Sridhar said.
Then the speeches started. Senior class secretary Julianna Solomon kicked off the party in her welcome to the class, thanking the staff for their integral roles and acknowledging her peers and their achievements together.
Principal Kimberly Bolden’s address was followed by her introduction of distinguished scholars and then by the introduction of the commencement speaker.
Dickson “Doc” Hendley, who is the founder of the organization Water into Wine and has worked for years to restore clean, drinkable water to third-world countries on the other side of the globe. He told of how he grew up as the self-described black sheep of his family and told of how he dropped out of college during his first semester because it didn’t work for him. He detailed how he fled home on his motorcycle and became a bartender before becoming cognizant of the world’s water crisis, traveling to Darfur to create tangible change.
His story served as a reminder to the graduates that anyone can make a positive difference in the world, providing them with both inspiration and hope as they embark into futures with opportunity abound. “I’ve been to the last few graduations, and I can honestly say that [Hendley] was the most inspiring [commencement speakers] I have heard,” junior Jason Eisen said.
After Class President Darren Bogart followed up the speech with one of his own, it was finally time to hand out diplomas. Rebecca Smondrowski, a member of the county Board of Education, confirmed the authenticity of the diplomas before teachers Christopher Thompson and Daniel Pecoraro read off the names of the graduating class, and one by one the students walked across the stage with well-earned pride. Walking across the stage at graduation is the final highlight of long, illustrious, high school careers, and the experience for this year’s seniors was no exception.
To wrap up the proceedings Class Vice President Alyssa Yi gave the farewell speech before both staff and newly crowned alums exited the hall to the music of the band. “It was cool to be able to experience graduation from the stage” junior band member David Ajaron said.