STEVENSVILLE — Kent Island High School celebrated the Class of 2016 on Thursday, June 2 at the 18th annual commencement. Two hundred and ninety-two students received their diplomas on a stage set in the school’s outdoor stadium, surrounded by family, friends and faculty.

“It is a great honor to be a part of this graduation ceremony. Most of you were born the same year Kent Island High School was born,” Queen Anne’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carol Williamson told the graduating class.

Williamson said when she asked Principal John Schrecongost to describe the Class of 2016 called them intelligent, talented and well-behaved. Those traits served as a recurring theme throughout the evening. This year the senior class boasted two salutatorians, and many graduates were members of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, International Thespian Society, Spanish Honor Society and French Honor Society.

Williamson highlighted the class’ success in academics. “Over 1,000 college applications were submitted by this class,” she said. “The average daily attendance for the last three years was 95 percent, and your hard work paid off because you received over $6 million in scholarships.”

She thanked the students who had made a commitment to serve in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Marines.

“You have had an outstanding year,” she said, “you have left your mark on Kent Island High School.”

Members of the senior class opened the ceremony with a moving, a capella rendition of the National Anthem, and members of the senior class also joined in the choral presentation, “Slipping Through My Fingers.”

Class President Ryan Domogauer entertained guests and classmates with his opening remarks.

“This is your president speaking,” Domogauer said. “Thank you to our coaches, teachers, loving and supporting family members, we wouldn’t be here without you. Congratulations to my fellow classmates,. I know you Bucs, and I know you will be successful; you are from, after all, from the island without palm trees.”

Domogauer left his fellow seniors with this quote from Mark Twain and following thought, “‘The secret of getting ahead, is getting started,’ and it is always a great day to be a Buccaneer.”

Student Government Association President Anthony Stampone shared his thanks as well. “I am proud of everyone sitting here in front of me,” Stampone said. “Time has flown by, and we discovered high school is a place of learning, not just academic learning, but self learning.”

Salutatorians Mackenzie Poust and Yuan Wei also addressed the seniors and guests.

“We’ve bonded and our teams have become family. Life is about experiences, and we will continue to develop the skills learned here at KI. We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun,” Poust said.

Wei noted the finality of the day, “This. This is the true end of high school today, June 2, 2016.” He said it had been a long, long ride for all of them, but felt a huge sense of accomplishment that they had truly and finally made it, ready hopefully to face the challenges of adulthood ahead. Borrowing a line from Han Solo, “Never tell me the odds,” Wei quipped.

Class Valedictorian Melissa Judge recounted fond memories of senior year: attempting to dance to electric county music at the American Legion during prom, the homecoming parade, the creation of the equestrian and sailing teams and senior cookout in the parking lot.

“Some of my greatest memories have come from KIHS,” Judge said. “We’ve made new friends and together we’ve grown. Stay humble and kind.”

Finally, it was almost time for the class to receive their long-awaited diplomas, but Schrecongost had one final message for the seniors. This was a class rich in aptitude and talent, Schrecongost said, one that was defined by mutual trust.

“The role of a high school principal is not always an easy one; you never know what the day might bring,” he said, noting that the 2015-16 school year had held some interesting challenges including an evacuation of the entire building early in the school year.

“You, you allowed me to speak to you during that event, without yelling to be heard, without benefit of a microphone. You led your fellow underclassmen with perfect performance,” he told the seniors.

He continued, “I have said a school does what it’s senior class does. Time and time again, you provided an excellent example to follow. [I was able to say] I trust you, our seniors will lead and do exactly what I ask them to do. There aren’t many principals who can stand before you and tell you the same thing.

“Your leadership, performance and trust you have earned has defined the culture of our school,” he said. “We overcome. We succeed. You have the character and leadership to succeed. I appreciate you. I thank you, and we can say at KIHS we have a culture of success.”

Before the member of the Class of 2016 turned their tassels, School Board President Jennifer George told then she had certified their diplomas.

“This certifies that the diplomas you have received meet the requirements of the State of Maryland and Queen Anne’s County,” said George, “I wish you all a very bright future.”

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