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Class of 2017 concludes high school career with emotional graduation ceremony

Sarah Elbeshbishi

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Yesterday, June 12 the Watkins Mill High School class of 2017 graduated from DAR constitutional hall at 10am, which included speeches from staff and students and performances from Watkins Mill band, orchestra, and chorus.

The morning consisted of several of addresses from principal Carol Goddard, senior class adviser Sonya Shpilyuk, English teacher David Sampselle, Class of 2017 president Kareling Portillo, and student speaker Esther Israel.   

Portillo began the ceremony by congratulating her fellow classmates on making it through after “four exhausting, procrastinating, but exciting years.” She summarized the class of 2017 four years together at Watkins Mill, while highlighting their highs and lows. Portillo closed by thanking her classmates, friends, family, teachers, and others who have supported them through.

It then proceeded with “Irish Melody” by the Watkins Mill Chorus and the introduction of the senior class adviser. Shpilyuk opened with her infamous tagline, “Attention Watkins Mill seniors, Sphilly here.” She celebrated how the class of 2017 came together during the several challenges and successes they faced.

“It doesn’t matter if you did theater or robotics or tech crew or lax, when it mattered you came together as a class,” Shpilyuk said. Before ending her speech she left the graduates with a little bit of advice, “there is one thing that I would advise you to focus on fixing in the next phase of your lives, it would be your ability to do things on time.”

Seniors Jyline Carranza and Elena Rodriguez sang “For Good” by Steven Schwartz as the student duet, which left many emotional as it related to their future ventures after high school. “Enjoy the summer that you have ahead of you, but don’t forget that once fall comes and you go to school you do have to keep working so that way your life can be just as great as your parents and your families have always envisioned it for you,” social studies teacher Lauren Squier said.  

Israel continued the program with her empowering speech about “[the graduates’] story of struggle, of hope, and of triumph” and “our journey to June 12th began the moment we stepped foot onto Watkins Mill soil as hopelessly, awkward freshman.” She too summed up the class’ four years at the Mill. “For so long we have been marked as underdogs, but today we are champions,” Israel concluded.

“I’m going to frame my thoughts around several quotations, you will hear two from Winston Churchill, one from somebody named Alfred Tennyson, one by John Wesley, Robert Browning quotation, there is a quotation also that Ms. Young stole from Anderson,” Sampselle said. “There will be an allusion to Plato and another one from Socrates. And then there is one quotation I couldn’t find a source for, so I’ll take credit for that one.”    

Along with the outline of his speech only an English teacher could provide, he gave some insight into the graduates as well. “The seniors are good people, they will do the right thing after they’ve tried just about everything else,” Sampselle added.   

“Without a doubt, today is one of the reasons why I love being a high school principal,” Goddard said. “You accepted me as your principal and your peers as equals, you will be forever etched into my mind. Your determination to be the best in everything you do, your energy in bring back the Wolverine Pride and the spirit of Watkins Mill is exceptional.”

You are a wonderful, brilliant group of young people, the world around you may seem scary because it is…[but] you’ve overcome real hardships to get to this place today,” Shpilyuk added. “The courage and perseverance that brought you to this point today is exactly what will carry you forward to the successes I know lie in your future…I expect lots of emails, Shpilly out.”    

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The student news site of Watkins Mill High School
Class of 2017 concludes high school career with emotional graduation ceremony