Fourteen Students Graduate from Gifft Hill School in Annaberg Ceremony

Valedictorian Megan Miller, right, and Salutatorian Tyler Bradley enjoy a moment of laughter during their speeches.

The Gifft Hill School celebrated its third high school graduation ceremony by awarding 14 students high school diplomas at the Annaberg ruins on Thursday evening, June 15.

“This is the third ceremony of its kind, but it already has a feeling of steadfast tradition,” said outgoing co-head of the school, Scott Crawford during his opening remarks. “The class of ‘06 is the biggest class to date. They are wonderfully talented young people — a renaissance class — and they deserve to be savored.”

The graduates filed in to the ceremony accompanied by the steel pan music of Gregory Edward and James Frett, students of the GHS class of 2008.

The Coral Bay School’s original guidance counselor, Angel Wilde, spoke to the students, some of whom she worked with during the first years of the school. “You all are very special to me,” said Wilde. “Be courageous and take risks. I am so proud of you.”

“Off To Some Amazing Things”
Incoming head of school Ben Biddle said he was sad to see the students go, but hoped that the close relationship between the students and teachers would facilitate continued communication.

“I am sad, selfishly, to see you move on,” he said. “I suspect we’ll be in touch over the years. You’re off to some amazing things.”

The featured speaker at the ceremony was Steve Simon, who was chosen by the class of 2006 to speak at their ceremony.

A commencement speaker should have “significant standing in the community, an opinion the students value and should be able to deliver a message in a way that hits home,” said Crawford. “Steve Simon is all of these things. He’s somewhat over 30 and still really cool.”

Simon urged the graduates to make their own trails instead of following well-worn paths.

Taking Ownership of Actions
“You’ll be known forever by the trails you leave,” he said. “You are here today because you made the decision to take ownership of your actions. The world you are about to enter is a competitive place, and you must have confidence that the choices you make are more than just a guess.”

“Failing is not falling down, it’s not getting up again,” Simon continued. “The motivating force in our lives is our will.”

Simon also spoke about the uniqueness of St. John.

“St. John has forever changed your lives,” he said. “On St. John, we are all our brother’s keeper, and we are all proud of that.”

Eleven of the 14 graduates boasted a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above. Throughout the school year, half of the class was on the honor roll.

“They are undoubtedly an exceptional class,” said Crawford.

Class valedictorian Megan Miller earned her position with a GPA “well over 3.9,” said Crawford. Miller’s GPA was the highest ever recorded at the school. “St. John is a great place to learn things you would never find in a book,”

said Miller, who delivered a humorous speech. “On St. John, you’ve got to make do with what you’ve got and get over it. Our class has a wide range of diversity, and an incredible amount of talent.”

Diverse, Talented Class
Salutatorian Tyler Bradley read a poem he wrote for the ceremony.

“These islands have become a home for us all,” he said. “We will only continue to grow.”

The GHS student council presented the graduates with the Dr. Suess book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”

The small class size allowed Crawford to comment on each student individually, some who have been with the school since its opening, as he presented the diplomas.

“Four of you have been with us since the first year,” he said. “Your personalities are inextricably woven into this place. No other senior classes have made such an impact on their school as the young men and women sitting before us.”

“Thank you for making the last six years time well spent,” Crawford concluded.