Moving Up and Out: Gateway School Graduates Largest Class To Date


Ben Slaterbeck, Staff Reporter

Thirty students, the largest graduating class of Gateway seniors to date, were led to the graduation ceremony by a new bagpiper this year at the Scott Center on the Carroll Community College campus.

Graduation itself happened at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 26.

To uphold Gateway’s unique tradition, students were led into the ceremony by the new bagpiper (as the previous bagpiper retired) during the actual graduation. There was a pledge to the flag, followed by a welcome from the principal, Mr. Wetzel. After that, the Student Government Association (SGA) created a presentation that showed pictures and names of all the graduates.

Awards were handed out next. Jackson Barnett, Mary Ripper, and Kiki Watson received the President’s Education Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, and two of those students, Jackson Barnett and Mary Ripper, received the Governor’s Merit Award. Twelve students were given Service Learning Awards for earning the most Service Learning hours. The student who had the most hours was Molly Brough, who dedicated 300 hours of her time to service projects.

A scholarship for one Gateway senior, The Justice for Danielle Scholarship, was awarded to Sakura Dash. This was a planned surprise, which was revealed when Sherri Tyler, Danielle Tyler’s grandmother, announced it onstage. There was an audible gasp when Dash’s name was read. It was a very heartwarming moment as the two of them hugged on stage.

Kiki Watson volunteered to write and give a speech to the graduating class “Because… I dunno I felt like it. I’m an overachiever.” which is a valid reason. They spent a lot of time on it, having around 17 drafts before finishing and delivering the final version at the ceremony.

Watson spoke about how most graduates, including them, did not think they would graduate before coming to Gateway. They also brought up how some students were struggling in comprehensive schools for various reasons (depending on the person), but they did it. They made it through high school even if they could never imagine it a year ago. Watson thanked the teachers for helping the graduates get through school.

Watson finished their speech with some advice:

“Be kind to yourself and don’t try to suppress your own dreams. You don’t have to change your goals in life for other people.”

The graduating class was introduced after the speech, followed by speeches from the faculty. Gateway’s graduation is special in that each graduate requests a teacher or staff member who was particularly helpful to them to prepare and give a speech about that student. Each speech was personalized, not just some cookie-cutter speech where names change every year. Because each student at Gateway is unique, the faculty shows that in the speeches for each student.

Closing remarks were done by Mr. Wetzel, then the graduates were released by the bagpiper to celebrate outside with friends, family, and Gateway staff.

In spite of the challenges that many Gateway students have faced, they persevered and walked across the stage with pride. As for the future, some graduates plan to take a gap year, and others are going directly to a trade school or a four-year college. There are even those going straight to working at jobs.

Congratulations, graduates!


All the graduates this year (and speakers):

Joanne Austin – Mr. Kerins

Vincent Bach – Mr. Schilling

Jackson Barnett – Ms. Mackie

Brandi Borgaard – Ms. Stewart

Molly Brough – Mr. Kerins

Ava Bryant – Mr. Smolko

Jeremy Conkling – Mr. Smolko

Elijah Crouse – Ms. Reed

Sakura Dash – Ms. Murchie

Clayton Dell – (Not participating in graduation)

Skylar Eckard – Ms. Krone

Glen Hamm – Ms. Reed

Syd Hess – Ms. Ricketts

Zachary Hooper – Ms. Mackie

Colton Hopwood – Ms. Krone

Abigail Kirby – Sgt. Snedden

Chloe Mettle – Ms. Reed

Madison Nodine – Ms. Murchie

Kaylen Pahl – Mr. Stargel

Bryana Primo – Ms. Murchie

Angie Ramos – Ms. Krone

Mary Ripper – Mr. Smolko

Dylan Rivera – Ms. Vendemia

Christopher Seal – (Not participating in graduation)

Jonathan Serio – Mr. Larrimore

Torin Sevilla – Mr. Clements

Samantha Shackelford – Ms. Ricketts

Kiki Watson – Ms. Ricketts

Ryan Willman – Mr. Schilling

Connor Yaede – Mr. Schilling