‘A FOREVER WARRIOR’
Graduation can be a very moving moment for some. The concept of crossing the stage and completing a challenge that has been years in the making can stir up plenty of emotions.
For Deontae Davidson, a senior at Ernest Righetti High School, Friday morning’s commencement ceremony was moving in every sense of the word.
Deontae couldn’t help but dance with joy as the Righetti choir sang “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.” He was one of several students to rise to their feet, using the performance as an opportune time to bust a move.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Deontae told the News-Press before the crossed the stage. “I’m just happy to be here with all of my friends and all my people. It’s the best time to be here, why wouldn’t you be happy? You’ve been working 13 years for this.”
Deontae, who was pointing to the audience and getting lost in the music, then revealed a picture of his late grandmother that he was holding in his hands before celebrating with his fellow classmates.
“This is my inspiration,” he said.
Before the choir performance, the four co-valedictorians took to the podium to address the crowd. They were: Chelsey Kang, Akemi Karamitsos, Jessica Powell, and Katharine Rucker.
Akemi encouraged her fellow classmates to celebrate their accomplishments but to continue pushing forward — all while remembering their why.
“Be your own driving force,” she said. “Push yourself, but give yourself grace when things don’t go as planned. Even if this has not been your mindset thus far, now is the perfect time to take control.”
Chelsea thanked the graduates for their influence on her and for making her a better person, while Jessica advised that none of the students be content with their accoldates at this point in their young lives.
Katharine gave heartfelt remarks, during which time she reflected on the struggles and sacrifices each of the students have overcome. These challenges did not exclude herself, as Katharine lost her father while in high school — who she said was one of the most inspirational people she has ever known.
“These are the struggles in which we find our strength, and today I see that strength in everyone,” she said. “It is a feat that we all have conquered — don’t forget that.”
The graduates were dressed in purple cap and gowns adorned with various sashes and tassels. The group of 525 graduates made their way down the middle of the aisle of chairs on the football field walking two by two. As “Pomp and Circumstance” was performed by the band, some students immediately took their seats while others pulled out their cell phones to call family to find out which direction they should wave.
While addressing the graduates, Principal Karen Rotondi congratulated the students for making it to graduation day.
“You are from this day forward a Righetti alumni,” she said. “A forever Warrior. Be proud to join the ranks of those before you.”
Ms. Rotondi shared the accomplishments of the Class of 2019 and recognized the four co-valedictorians, who each graduated with a GPA of 4.7 or higher. While Ms. Rotondi continued, the students pulled out a beach ball and began hitting it back and forth before the wind pushed it from their reach.
“I have no doubt that the Class of 2019 is prepared to enter the next chapter of your lives,” said Ms. Rotondi. “You have the foundation of success, now it’s up to you to be your best every single day. Be your own hero and be a hero to others.”
After Kate Martella gave a farewell, the students turned their tassels from right to left. As the ceremony came to a close, purple and gold confetti was shot out of mechanical cannons that flanked the chairs on the field as the group celebrated their final moment as high schoolers.