The stands at Thorsted Field were packed with family and friends of the 129 graduates of Summerville High School and Connections Visual and Performing Arts Academy for the 2018 commencement ceremony held Friday night.
“A Hui Hou Kakou,” or "Until We Meet Again," was the theme of the night. The Orange Crush Band played “Pomp and Circumstance” as the seniors were ushered in. Once in their seats, Summerville senior Claire Caldera gave a welcoming speech. Caldera talked about getting the new football field their freshman year, their mannequin challenge video going viral their junior year and raising over $100,000 with their senior projects.
Summerville and Connections seniors joined Jazz@8 and performed "With a Little Help from my Friends" with each senior getting a chance to belt out lyrics in the acapella rendition of the song.
Connections senior Gavin Williams gave the salutatorian address, and valedictorian Connections senior Haley Brower delivered her speech, a recap of their fours years at Summerville. As freshmen they were a bit scared but by the end of their first year Summerville “began to feel a bit like home.” During sophomore year they discovered who they are, junior year there were challenges and they were “molded into who they would be as seniors.” She talked about the lasts, the last dance, the last class, the last rally “720 school days later we made it!” Connections senior Connor McGee revealed the class gift, a new PA system for the gym. Italian foreign exchange students Enrico Scalia and Egle Sivo recounted their year at Summerville with Scalia saying that “being here changed my personality in a good way, coming here was the best choice of my life” and Sivo saying her time here was “unforgettable” and urging her classmates to “look for your own happiness. Everyone is different so everyone has a different definition of happiness.”
Summerville senior William Antinetti introduced guest speaker Lee Suggs describing him as having the most welcoming classroom on campus and “if there was a spot in the yearbook for most school spirit, he’d win every year.”
Suggs encouraged the graduating class to be exceptional, be other-centered, to give people second chances and to be aware when people in their life need help.
Superintendent Robert Griffith asked the students to "carry in your hand your diploma and carry in your heart love, for without love you're just going through the motions of life." Then, he declared them graduates.
The seniors moved their orange, black and gold tassels to the other side of their mortarboards and lined up to receive their diplomas. Most graduates waved to friends and family as their name was called, many danced, some jumped and one did a backflip.
Summerville graduate Mackenzie Hartwig gave the closing address at the end of which the graduates tossed their mortarboards his into the night sky as fireworks exploded behind them.