Community News Service
Charlotte Central School’s 34 eighth graders sat excitedly in the corner of their gymnasium for the final time on June 13 as they prepared to move on with a ceremony before family, teachers and friends.
The lights were dimmed at the start of the school’s graduation ceremony for a slideshow featuring highlights of the past eight years the students had spent together. Other than the screen, the room was completely dark except for a few candles and a small lighted arch fixture which the students would later walk through.
Next, co-principals Stephanie Sumner and Jen Roth went to the podium, where they announced the theme of the night – “Travel the world.” With the lights back on, the audience could then see flags from around the world stretched across the wall behind the soon-to-be-graduates. Below the flags was a display of photo portraits of each of the eighth-graders.
“These graduates have certainly traveled through a diverse path to get here tonight,” Sumner said. Throughout their journey through elementary school, the class has seen an influx of new teachers and classmates. And the group was the first to be involved in the school’s new curriculum programs, she added.
The principals also spoke of the leadership role the class had with the younger students at Charlotte Central School.
“This class has led the way in both challenging and rewarding times,” Sumner said.
She spoke of the student walkout last year where students and faculty reached an agreement to let students walk out of class in conjunction with a nationwide protest in response to gun violence in schools.
In such an intense time, the class of 2019 was said to “set a tone of both respect and maturity,” Sumner said. The teachers then sang Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young,” followed by more speakers. The first was Kyle Jaunich, an alumnus and member of the U.S. Navy who had spent the past few years traveling the world. His advice to the students was to take risks and meet new people, emphasizing that they don’t have to physically travel to gain new experiences by going out of their comfort zone.
Up next was Student Leadership Council president Ella Caldwell, who had the crowd laughing and cheering with comments about the highlights from the past eight years.
“Here’s some advice: Stop playing ‘Fortnite,’” she said to her classmates, referencing a popular video game, a comment that was met with applause from parents in the crowd.
Another slideshow began featuring photos of the graduates from when they were younger alongside a picture of them now and a quote from a famous person. The students took turns reading their quotes aloud, with many of them sparking laughter from the audience.
Each graduate’s name was called for them to receive a certificate and then walk down a line of teachers for handshakes and some hugs. The evening was capped off with a celebratory dance for the class.
Community News Service is a collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program.
The Nancy Butler Good Citizenship Award – Emma Jemley, Sage Kehr
The Jeanette Lewis Creative Writing Award – Ella Caldwell
Charlotte Humanitarian Award – Jadin Brown
Florence Horsford Good Neighbor Award – Stephanie Taylor
Self-Direction Award – Ella Beerworth, Dicey Manning, Hadley Stockwell, Caroline Swayze
Creative and Practical Problem Solving Award – Joe Jacobs, Scott Wallace
Clear and Effective Communication Award – Peter Gilliam, Mircea Hamilton, Sylvie Miller
Informed and Integrative Thinking Award – Natalie D’Amico, Grace McNally, Zach Santos
Reasonable and Involved Citizenship Award – Coco Eyre, Kayla Fysh, Neika Haire, Rory McDermott
Charlotte Central School Class of 2019
Duncan H. Baker
Ella Bryn Caldwell
Skylar James Dickenson
Harold Arthur Evans, Jr.
Jason Michael Fath
Mircea Christianne Hamilton
Catherine (Dicey) Manning
Jameson Thomas McEnaney
Jacob T. Russell