May 26 was a night of joy, tears and record breaking moments as 203 graduating seniors crossed the threshold from childhood to adulthood.
For many the moment was a mixed bag of emotions, as some struggled with the concept of leaving friends and favorite teachers behind, while others impatiently counted down the minutes until they were free.
For graduating senior John Gorman leaving Evergreen Park would be a bittersweet moment.
“ I will miss all the amazing friends I have made while I was here, they have been [my] foundation.”
Fellow graduating senior Joseph Sanders agreed that leaving classmates and staff behind would be the hardest part.
“ [The] staff and the people are the things I will miss the most about Evergreen Park, it was a great community and [ I had a] great experience [here.]”
Senior Celena Campbell simply shook her head "no," when questioned about whether or not she would miss high school.
Whatever feelings students held about leaving the place they have called home for the last four years, it all soon gave way to nervousness as the clock struck 7:00pm.
As they arranged themselves in alphabetical order, students struggled to remember which side they should move their tassels to, while others made sure to check their shoelaces in order to ensure that they wouldn’t trip before making their way up to the stage.
Marching into the gym to the beat of Pomp and Circumstance, a wave of love engulfed the graduating class as proud parents waved and wiped away tears, while some teachers quietly whispered “I’m proud of you," as they walked past.
As they settled down into their seats, the feelings of ambivalence, nervousness and excitement were replaced with pride as Principal William Sanderson announced to the audience that the class of 2011 “was offered the most scholarship money ($6,467,406)… in the history of Evergreen Park Community High School.”
At the announcement of this news the audience rose to their feet in thunderous applause, while the class of 2011 humbly basked in the light of their accomplishments.
After the commencement speeches and presentations were over, the time had finally arrived for each student to stand up and receive their diploma.
The moment, however, was tinged with sorrow because deceased classmate Danielle Sellers would be unable to take part in this occasion.
Sellers, who passed away in 2010 from a car accident, was know as a vivacious and caring person.
“She was a sweet, sweet girl," said Sellers. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. She knew so many people in the community, and her loss was heartbreaking not only for her family, but for the community in general. “
As parents Jackie Higgins and Jim Sellers crossed the stage to receive their daughter's diploma, the audience jumped to their feet in a standing ovation. Higgins and Sellers were visibly touched as they struggled to hold back tears.
“She was a tremendous student,“ said Sanderson. “She meant a lot to everyone here, and she touched a lot of people’s lives. She is still with us today, and her memory will never go away.”
As the final name was called, students rose, moved their tassels from right to left and proceeded out of the gym.
As the newly minted alums spilled out of the gym, chants of V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, Victory, Victory that’s our cry!” echoed throughout the hallway as they hugged each other one last time.
Congratulations Class of 2011!