Eight Graduate in GHS Class of 2013


Left to Right: Valedictorian Careem Albert, Kwasi Browne, Salutatorian Nicole Morrisette, Weston Patrie, CJ Scatliffe, Mariah Scheer, Kelvin Small Jr. and Maggie Wessinger.

Trayser Field was filled Thursday evening, June 13, as teachers, family, friends, alumni and supporters gathered together at Gifft Hill School for its 11th commencement ceremony. 

Eight students were celebrated and given diplomas, “marking an end to a chapter in their lives and the beginning to another,” as class Valedictorian Careem Albert said. 

Careem, who is heading off to attend Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, was joined by class Salutatorian Nicole Morrisette, who will be attending the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Rounding out the class were Kwasi Browne, Weston Patrie, CJ Scatliffe, Mariah Scheer, Kelvin Small Jr. and Maggie Wessinger, all of whom will be attending various colleges in the fall. 

The ceremony was kicked off with Pomp and Circumstance played by the Love City Pan Dragons while the young graduates marched onto the field carrying white flowers in their hands, which they carried to honor their former classmate Nekwan Sprauve who passed away during their 9th grade year. 

Welcoming remarks were given by GHS Head of School Judy Chamberlain, right before keynote speaker, LaVaughn Belle, was introduced by her good friend and school supporter Janet Cook-Rutnik.

Upon taken the stage Belle, who is an artist, teacher and activist, said that she was honored to have been invited to take part in the ceremony. Despite her excitement Belle was also a bit nervous, she explained. 

“What do I say to inspire you guys, to be charming but meaningful at the same time,” Belle asked herself. 

Although she was battling nerves, her words were indeed moving and inspirational. Belle urged the graduates to find their calling in life; find something in life that makes them loose track of time; something that makes them forget to eat; something that makes sleep look like a distant stranger. 

To bring her point home she used the example of a mango tree. Belle told the graduates to plant their seeds now and to nurture them.

“Plant your seeds in the sun, not in the shade like many do out of fear and watch in grow,” she said. 

After Belle imparted wise words upon the students, the GHS class of 2013 Salutatorian and Valedictorian were invited to speak on their experiences at Gifft Hill School. Both Albert and Morrisette spoke of the family which they had gained at the school, the community that they felt, and the intimate setting that allowed for them to grow up on the hill.

Morrisette also thanked her family and friends, classmates and little sister, who also attends the school. She also spoke about her future goals of taking up Business Management and Philosophy, especially because she can apply those majors to life. 

Class Valedictorian Albert was next to take the podium in a moving speech in which he thanked everyone from his mom, the faculty and staff at the school, to his good friends. 

He also spoke much about two individuals who really inspired him in life: his good friend and “partner in crime” Nekwan Sprauve who taught him the importance of enjoying life, as well as his grandmother, who passed just weeks before his senior year began. 

While fighting cancer, Albert’s grandmother constantly reminded him of the importance of an education and perseverance. 

“Granny, I earned Valedictorian for you,” Albert said with his head to the sky.

After the speeches were given, the diplomas were distributed to each of the seniors. The graduates were called up one by one as a short memoir about each of them was given by GHS counselor Meghan Duffy.

Duffy talked about the students’ effortless way of making people smile, their strong bond, their perfectly timed humor and sarcasm. 

Duffy also announced that the class had gained more than $700,000 in merit scholarship, including two Ruby Rutnik Awards which were rewarded to Mariah Scheer and Maggie Wessinger during the ceremony. 

After diplomas were distributed, closing remarks were given by the Headmaster Chamberlain, who urged the students to continue their hard work, make something of themselves, and of course, not to forget to visit. 

The ceremony was then brought to an end as the song Memories, this rendition by Kwasi Browne played in the background. In spite of the pouring rain which began mid-ceremony, the commencement exercise ran smoothly and ended on a note of happiness, optimism, and good hopes for these young individuals. 

Congratulations to the Gifft Hill School Class of 2013! We look forward to seeing and hearing about all your future achievements!