Photo Credit: Mei Lamison/Achona Online
On May 29, 2018, Academy seniors walked across the Straz Center stage to receive their diplomas. While they each said their goodbyes to Academy, first graders handed them bouquets of red roses.
High School Principal Stephanie Nitchals gave a few words congratulating the class after the girls had processed in.
Salutatorian Evelyn Martinez was the first to give a speech at the ceremony. She spoke about the memories and lessons she has shared and learned with her Academy sisters.
“Here we have learned how to be independent, but also interdependent; how to succeed and celebrate our success, but also how to fail and to grow from it; how to laugh and how to cry, sometimes at the same time; and perhaps most importantly, we have learned what it means to be a family,” said Martinez.
Once Martinez finished her speech, Vice Principal Erin Krukar called each girl to stand and receive their diploma. Next, valedictorian Emma Heston gave her speech to the graduating class. She connected the words of a preschooler to the resources Academy had provided them.
“I asked them what was needed to grow a perfect watermelon, and the common responses were healthy soil, water, and sunlight. Then one of the little girls looked me in the eye and told me something I will never forget, she said you cannot forget to love it. That is often the forgotten part of our country’s education system – they water us, provide the resources or nutrients we need, give us plenty of sunlight, but sometimes they forget to love us. Not Academy though, we received the necessary requirements for growth plus the love and so much more,” said Heston.
Once Heston finished her speech, President Art Raimo gave his closing remarks. When he finished, the class of 2018 had officially graduated.
After the girls processed off of the stage, they greeted their family and friends outside of the center. With their tassels moved to the right, and their rings flipped on their fingers, the class of 2018 left their graduation ceremony.