Staff, graduates and junior marshals lined up on the field waiting for the ceremony to begin as music played in the background. The day was sunny and bright and the mood was one of celebration as this special day had arrived for the Langtree Charter Academy Class of 2021 to cross the stage and receive their diplomas and be declared graduates.
Following the singing of the national anthem by Alex Omundson, salutatorian Aksitha Thippa welcomed everyone to this memorable occasion and thanked the families for providing that love, encouragement and support throughout their high school years and to the teachers for the lessons they taught.
She also expressed thanks for the “lasting friendships and memories I will carry with me to college and my next steps of life. This has been an important time in our lives, but there are still many more to come.”
Kade Alan Suddeth, the student class representative, began by noting the fact that they were there to “celebrate the hard work and dedication of the senior class. We have persevered through the unimaginable but still came out graduates with bright futures and nothing holding us back.”
Suddeth reflected on his time at the school and how the teachers cared about the students and helped them make the most of their education. He noted the tough year that everyone had to deal with as far as COVID was concerned and what seemed like an impossible task of learning through online meetings, but through it all they learned important life lessons, which he shared “was preparing all of us graduating for the next chapter in our lives.”
This year, he continued “and everything that has been tied into it will be in the history books. It has given us the opportunity to tell our kids stories that cannot be forgotten as it has taken such a large toll on every aspect of our lives, but Langtree is where we felt safe.”
Suddeth concluded by noting a life lesson he learned that “we become who we surround ourselves with” and how those around him, including his parents, friends and teachers, all pushed him to be his best, shaped him into being the person he is today and who had his back.
As Valedictorian Sammie Lee Queveon Tate took the stage, he began by thanking “God, who made all this possible, my parents for their sacrifices, love and endless support, the teachers and staff for spreading their insightful knowledge and educational expertise and to my peers who share this journey with me.”
Expounding on the school’s motto of integrity, purpose, passion and grit, Tate shared thoughts on each. “Integrity, our parents instilled it in us to go to be all we can be; purpose, education helped to give us, prepared us for what we can be; passion, our hearts made us stay the course, forced us to get what we are to be; and grit, our determination, our commitment, perseverance, dedication and staying power has proven to us and brought forth who we are, mighty men and women of valor.”
Tate shared that for many, their road to education began 13 years ago, “but now,” he said, “we are at the crossroad of life where it is up to our discretion where the road will lead us. We can take all the valuable skills, life lessons that we were taught and apply them so that we will be able to obtain all of our goals.
“As we embark on the next steps of our lives, whether it is to enroll, enlist or employ,” he challenged them to expand their interests, strengthen their capabilities and remember Langtree’s motto and “see every opportunity as a chance to develop, stretch ourselves, be adaptive to transition and to be progressive.”
Celebrating the graduating class was the theme of Principal Shane Lis’ speech as he said he thought deeply what to share during the ceremony. Today, he noted, was not about COVID, and despite how important family, teachers and friends are and how much appreciation they deserve, the day wasn’t about them either.
The day was about focusing on the seniors as he told them, “you only graduate from high school once and today is your day.”
Lis celebrated their talents whether it be artistic, athletic or academic. However, he said, “Whichever talent you have, it’s only the beginning. High school is just a prelude to the life you will live and the difference you will make. I am so proud of each and every one of you sitting before me today.”
Lis encouraged them to keep those memories they had made, come back and share their successes and to remember the saying at Langtree, “Once a Lion, always a Lion!”
The students proceeded to cross the stage as their names were called and receive their diplomas with family, friends and fellows graduates cheering them on, after which they were declared to have duly met the requirements, were named 2021 graduates and invited to turn their tassels. Shouts of joy could be heard, and caps were tossed into the air as the graduation ceremony concluded.