The COVID-19 pandemic forced a virtual Commencement Ceremony for Skyline High School on Tuesday, June 16th but the remote ceremony still included the traditional elements. The graduating seniors entered the ceremony via a march of senior photos and baby pictures. Musical performances and speeches came next, and then the graduates were announced to receive their diplomas in their Small Learning Communities: Integrity, Diversity, Equality, and Academic Innovation. Finally, the Class of 2020 marched out into the world by sharing their future plans.
Preceding the virtual ceremony, Skyline hosted an In-Car Procession where students drove across a red carpet to receive their diploma, a goodie bag, and have their photo taken with Principal Cory McElmeel. This two-hour long celebration offered graduates a chance to see many of the teachers and staff in person for the first time in months.
Graduating senior Elena Axinn delivered the class message highlighting they are resilient and ready to take the lessons learned at Skyline as they become freshmen again in college or whatever is next for them in life. She highlighted Skyline is a place where students are supported by the staff and each other. “I’m not naïve enough to assume that every single student and staff member is as openly accepting people I met over these four years, or even that the accept I felt applies to every minority group at Skyline,” Axin said. “But I hope all of you have experienced your classmates’ ability to look at somebody different and have empathy for them. I hope all of you strive to have that ability.”
The staff message was delivered by Chemistry and AP Biology teacher Alex Moran. He acknowledged that he doesn’t remember a word of the speaker from his high school graduation, but urged the graduates to be proud of what they have done and excited about what’s next. Yet he urged them to learn from challenging times the value of perseverance and relying on making good decisions. Moran said, “I invite you to embrace those hard days and those difficult times.”
While Skyline graduates will forever be Eagles, Principal Cory McElmeel told the class of 2020 in the Commencement Address they would be more like the phoenix in their efforts to make a fairer and more just society. “Seniors, you will rise out of the ashes of the COVID-19 pandemic and soar,” he said. “You are the ultimate symbol of strength and renewal by stepping up where others can’t and won’t. You will turn these experiences that threaten to scar the human soul into our greatest rebirth. You will shape our new tomorrow.”
The ceremony included a virtual duet version of the National Anthem, the Skyline Virtual Choir performing “The Answer,” a performance by the Skyline Blues from earlier this school year, and a portion of the African American Humanities class Black History Month Assembly.
Sixty-eight percent of the Class of 2020 graduated with Academic Honors by earning a grade point average of 3.2 or above. Kaitlin Barrett-Huff was awarded the Salura W. Jackson Award and Jordan Hunter claimed the Principal’s Soaring Eagle Award. The Small Learning Community Awards were presented to:
Integrity: Oluwaseun Ajepe and Andrew Kennedy
Diversity: Eleanor Andrew-Vaughn and Jahi Hawkins
Equality: Servon Hinton and GabriellaTeodoru
Academic Innovation: Taurus Caldwell and Santana Malnaik