It was in a packed, yet comfortably cool, Armstrong Sports Center that Richmond Hill’s graduating class of 2008 was celebrated Saturday. Crowds of camera wielding parents and jovial friends sat excitedly in the stands, all the while being serenaded by a sharp looking RHHS band who played a fine rendition of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ for the stately occasion. The excited teens were ushered in quietly by several junior marshals shortly after their teachers, clad in robes similar to their students, took their places in rows of chairs on either side of the graduate section. The scene shone brightly with the pride of parents in the stands and the excitement reflecting off the students on the floor.
After a short presentation of the colors by the RHHS JROTC Katie Hudson, Vice President of the senior class, took the stage to lead both the audience and those on the floor, teachers and graduates, in the pledge of allegiance. This was followed by the national anthem, performed by the RHHS band. As everyone settled back down into their seats class secretary Emily Stephens gave a formal, yet warm welcome, after which senior class treasurer Ben Botelho gave opening remarks. All of the student government officials handled themselves with great dignity. After the introduction Mrs. Michele Nardella, Richmond Hill’s STAR teacher, took the stage to introduce this year’s Salutatorian, Huy Phan. Huy then rose to give a brief, yet inspirational, address. Huy is a veteran of RHHS’s tennis team, ranked in the final four of the state, as well as many other clubs and extracurricular activities.
It was then that Allie Mazur and Ronald King, both graduating seniors, took center stage to present as stunning duet performance of ‘Those You’ve Known’. The pair showed great skill, while performing the beautiful and uplifting song to an awestruck crowd, who of course erupted into cheers after the performance. The audience was also to be treated by Miss Anne Meyers, who sang ‘Defying Gravity’, from Wicked. All of the ‘Special Music’ performers showed both great skill and discipline, it was clear they had spent a great deal of time practicing to make sure their presentations were flawless.
After this grand presentation Valedictorian Mathew Baker ascended to the podium and gave a heartfelt speech in which he emphasized how much he saw this year’s graduation class influencing the world, based on how much he had seen them accomplish while still only in high school. He also stressed their unity, saying that no matter where they went or what they did, the graduating class of 2008 would always be recognized as single, united, whole. Cheers echoed through the Sports Center as Matt took his seat.
Senior class President Brandon Keen then went on to present the school flag to junior class President Olivia Reed, who graciously accepted, and reveal this year’s senior gift. The main foyer of RHHS is to be remodeled and among the new floor tiles a paw will be laid bearing the schools insignia and a message commemorating forever the class of 2008.
The time had finally come for the graduates to cross the stage. As Principal Dr. Charles Spann took his place at the front of the stage to make a short address and commence the calling of the names the entire auditorium was silent. The eyes of every parent squinting to see their son or daughter, the ears of every graduate straining to hear their name, and to walk across the stage, now lined with waiting graduates, effectively completing the intense passage that is high school. Once started the conferral of diplomas was relatively quick. Students, now alumni, walked gracefully across the stage shaking hands with both Superintendant Dr. Brewer and Dr. Spann before receiving their hard won diploma. It is difficult to say who was more excited, the graduates or their parents. Cameras flashed constantly as immensely proud parents, some with tears in their eyes, tried to capture this monumental occasion. After the conferral ceremony a closing address was made by senior president Brandon Keen followed by the singing of the RHHS Alma Mater by the senior chorus.
A flock of black caps took fight chased by the triumphant cheers of the new alumni. Family and friends were allowed to take the floor, where upon a frenzy of hugs, smiles, and kisses erupted. Overall the ceremony was handled extremely well by the RHHS administration, and with undeniable grace on the part of the student body. It is not likely that the class of 2008 will be forgotten anytime soon, judging by the great outpouring of pride and school spirit present last Saturday.