Turning the tassel

28 graduates rise at SVRCS

Four graduating members of the 2019 class stand together to celebrate their achievement. Kathryn Kline / The Express

LOGANTON — Friends, family, teachers and students retreated from the rain Monday night and gathered in the gymnasium at Sugar Valley Rural Charter School for the Nineteenth Annual Commencement Exercises.

Commencement began at 7 p.m., with a large crowd of parents and families watching. The ceremony opened with the classic “Pomp and Circumstance” processional, played by the SVRCS band, which was comprised of over 15 students.

The National Anthem followed, sung beautifully by the SVRCS chorus, of which many of the members of the senior class were apart of.

CEO Tracie Kennedy warmly welcomed the crowd with an opening speech and imparted some advice to the soon-to-be graduates for the future.

“Be able to admit to yourself and others when you’re wrong, accept failure and use it to become a better person, learn from your mistakes and grow from them,” Kennedy said. “Value your family, friends, and those who are with you along your life’s path. But most of all, value yourself.”

The SVRCS class of 2019 consisted of 28 graduates, with Laura Tanner as valedictorian and Alanta Doan as the salutatorian.

Tanner was not present due to the fact that she was in Ecuador for a mission trip, so Doan was the sole student speaker at the ceremony.

Doan’s speech focused on acknowledging the many achievements of her fellow graduates and honoring Tanner since she was not able to be present.

Doan also recalled memories of all the years she and her classmates had spent together and the milestones they shared.

“Now it is time to follow our paths and start our own lives. Make your lives what you want them to be,” Doan said near the end of her speech, offering hopeful advice to her classmates.

As for SVRCS graduates’ plans for after graduation, 22 plan on attending college or a trade school, four are going directly into the workforce, and two are joining the military, according to Doan.

Doug Ulkins, a retired teacher and school administrator, gave a spirited commencement address near the middle of the ceremony.

“As of tonight, you have just increased your marketability in the world,” Ulkins said, addressing the senior class. “It’s amazing what one little piece of paper can do for you and all the other pieces of paper that you will accrue over your lifetime that will give you advantages and places to go.”

In a particularly bittersweet moment, Ulkins gave the graduates “one last assignment”, directing them to look around and give each of their peers a smile, as this could be the last time they are all together in the same place.

Following the commencement speech, the SVRCS chorus performed another piece, titled “We Won’t Stop Dreaming.”

The song was sung beautifully by the chorus, and the lyrics offered hopeful words that appropriately reflected the milestone that the graduates had achieved.

“Cause this is our world, and this is our time. These are our plans. We’re gonna let ’em shine,” the SVRCS chorus sang aptly.

Finally, diplomas were presented and the students had their time in the spotlight to walk in front of the audience as each of their names were called.

Mixed emotions could be seen on each of the graduates’ faces — excitement, nervousness, bittersweet sadness.

By the time the graduates were presented to the audience, it was clear that there was a special feeling in the room — a shared hope by everyone present that each member of the SVRCS Class of 2019 will go on to achieve their greatest dreams.