Story, photos and slideshow by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
On a rainy Wednesday night at Rackham Auditorium, 128 graduates took the microphone during an emotional three-hour ceremony and one by one, told why they will cherish their memories of Community High School.
Groups of students wearing an assortment of clothing ranging from casual to cap and gown walked on stage with their forum to accept their diplomas. Many thanked teachers, parents, and the many friends they’d made through the years at the school. Several said they felt free to be themselves, and most ended their brief talks with a hug from their forum leader.
Sophia Camp compared her final year at Community to “that deeply uncomfortable moment when you say goodbye to someone and end up walking in the same direction.”
“It’s been messy and it’s not glamorous and growing up is really hard, and Community has given me a place to grow up,” she said.
Sophia gave much of the credit to her forum leader, Chloe Root, who was there for her during panic attacks, heartbreak, depression and cancer, she said.
“You are my family,” Sophia said, as Root tried to hold back tears while holding the mic. “I don’t know where I’d be or who I’d be if I hadn’t met you. You’ve stuck around, and it means everything to me. You never make me feel like I’m too much. You are everything to me, and I love you more than I’ll ever be able to adequately express.”
Sophia ended her speech with: “Keep on kickin’, Community, you make the world go round.”
Dean Marci Tuzinsky called the occasion “huge,” and said the graduates’ courses are changing right now, whether they realize it or not.
“We want you ready,” she said. “My hope is no matter what life throws at you, no matter what course you take, that you trust that you do have what it takes to do whatever it is you need to do in that moment.”
The night included poetry readings, dance, and music.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift said she hopes that students find their place in the world that’s uniquely theirs to fill.
“As I’ve observed you throughout this year in your community endeavors, your drama productions, your mock trial, your Communicator, your jazz … in your arts, in your athletics, in your academic pursuits and most importantly in your service to others,” she said, “it’s clear to me and all of us here tonight that your passion, your energy, your energy, your dedication, your focus and the profound level of excellence that you’ve already achieved … that you emerge from a mighty and powerful place: Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.”
Days later, Sophia said she will remember the Community High School Commencement with fondness.
“Being a fifth year senior can feel really lonely and isolating at times and it was so incredible to finally have an experience that I’d previously felt so excluded from, with the person who supported me throughout this rough year right next to me,” she said. “I think throughout high school, but especially this year, I felt a lot of angst and jealously for my peers who I perceived as having more traditional experiences and having parents who supported them and were going through the graduation/college process alongside their friends. So it felt good to still be included in the ceremony and have a chance to represent myself and how things were a little different for me. It felt good to be as open and honest as I was.”