St. Charles High School pro­duces first crop of grad­u­ates

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Satur­day morn­ing, 292 stu­dents — most of whom be­gan their ca­reers as stu­dents of La Plata, Mau­rice J. McDonough or Thomas Stone high schools — crossed the stage at North Point High School as grad­u­ates of St. Charles High School’s first grad­u­at­ing class.

Paris Mercier, pres­i­dent of the Class of 2016, noted the sig­nif­i­cance in her stu­dent greet­ing.

“Class of 2016, to­day we have made his­tory,” Mercier told her fel­low grad­u­ates.

High school bound­aries were re­drawn in 2014 with the open­ing of the new St. Charles High School. Se­niors were al­lowed to fin­ish their fi­nal year at the high school they were al­ready at­tend­ing, but un­der­class­men af­fected by the re­dis­trict­ing were in­stead sent to the new school.

“Two years ago, we were ba­si­cally en­e­mies,” said vale­dic­to­rian Am­ber Wil­liams. “And now … we’ve be­come a com­mu­nity, and more than a com­mu­nity, a fam­ily.”

Wil­liams con­grat­u­lated her class for cre­at­ing a legacy that would en­dure for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of St. Charles stu­dents.

Sa­lu­ta­to­rian Jeanne Dela Cruz said the ex­pe­ri­ence of at­tend­ing St. Charles al­lowed her to meet peo­ple she oth­er­wise might not have met, and changed her life.

“I have met so many in­spi­ra­tional peo­ple here that I am proud to call my friends,” Dela Cruz said.

Prin­ci­pal Richard Con­ley said he met many of the grad­u­at­ing stu­dents as McDonough Rams, Thomas Stone Cougars, and La Plata War­riors.

“I could see in your faces a mix of emo­tions: from ex­cite­ment at be­ing a part of some­thing new, to sad­ness, about leav­ing a place that felt like home, to trep­i­da­tion about what this new ex­pe­ri­ence would have in store for you,” Con­ley told grad­u­ates. “Two years later … I’m proud to say that each and every one of you has left a mark on our school. You have helped to de­fine what it means to be a Spar­tan.”

Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Tatyana Smith said she came to St. Charles two years ago, af­ter at­tend­ing high school in Italy. She said she un­der­stood how stu­dents felt com­ing a new high school.

“You were up­set. You weren’t ready or will­ing to ac­cept any­thing new, and you def­i­nitely didn’t want to come to this brand new school and start all over. Your old school was such a large part of you that had some­one taken a knife to your palm, and made an in­ci­sion, you’d prob­a­bly bleed blue and white, pur­ple and or­ange, or blue and gold,” Smith told grad­u­ates, re­fer­ring to the school col­ors for Stone, McDonough and La Plata high schools, re­spec­tively.

Smith said the change in school forced ev­ery­one — her­self in­cluded — to step out of their com­fort zone, which ul­ti­mately turned out to be a good thing, as it gave stu­dents fa­mil­iar­ity with how to thrive amid chang­ing cir­cum­stances.

“You may think that the change is too much to han­dle, but you have al­ready demon­strated that you can do this,” Smith said.

Smith said over time, stu­dents came to feel at home in their new school.

“Slowly we all be­gan to take pride in our school and we be­gan to shape it into what we be­lieved it should be, and we started to be­long,” Smith said.

Charles County Su­per­in­ten­dent Kim­berly Hill urged grad­u­ates to con­tinue to em­brace change.

“All of you have shown per­se­ver­ance and the re­silience to climb this moun­tain and to move on to new chal­lenges, new strug­gles and new moun­tains,” Hill said.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

St. Charles High School grad­u­ates Leah Kel­ley, Me­gan Wyn­nyk, Hunter Jack­son and Micay­lah Jones move their tas­sels from right to left, a tra­di­tion sig­ni­fy­ing graduation, dur­ing graduation cer­e­monies Satur­day morn­ing.

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