Commencement ceremonies for Summit Academy’s 194 graduates were in full swing during the past few weeks. The students’ achievements are testaments to their resilience and dedication, says Summit Academy Management CEO John Guyer.
“Our students demonstrated incredible perseverance and dedication through this past year of uncertainty and countless challenges,” Guyer said. “I am immensely proud of our Class of 2021. They showed great fortitude in the face of a trying pandemic.”
The sentiment rang clear at Summit Academy Secondary School – Akron where newly minted graduate Christian Williams received the Grit Award during the school’s May 14 commencement ceremony. Principal Ralph Grant said the award symbolizes “the extraordinary and indomitable spirit to never quit and go beyond all limitations.”
At the the Akron ceremony, senior Serena Herrmann performed a song. The school’s steel drum band played “Pomp and Circumstance” as the graduates walked to their seats. Nicholas Gleason was honored as valedictorian. Grant said he is especially proud of this year’s graduating class and what they have accomplished as he passed along advice to his students.
“Life’s too short to wake up with regrets,” he said. “So, love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it’d be easy. They just promised it would be worth it.”
Summit Academy Secondary School – Middletown held its commencement ceremony at First Christian Church for its 14 graduates this year. Four of the graduates will be continuing their education through the Butler Tech Project LIFE/Project SEARCH program.
“We were so excited that we had the opportunity to provide such a wonderful graduation ceremony this year,” Principal Kelli Frisby said. “Our students have overcome so many obstacles and it was a privilege to celebrate and recognize each one of them for all their hard work.”
At Summit Academy Community School – Parma, students celebrated with a graduation ceremony on the Goodtime III cruise ship in Cleveland. Meanwhile, the school’s prom featured its share of fanfare, including a performance from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ dance team, the PowerHouse.
Summit Academy Secondary School – Canton commerated its 26 graduates with a May 21 commencement ceremony during which Stark County’s newly elected prosecuting attorney Kyle Stone served as the guest speaker. The school staff hosted a senior brunch before the ceremony, providing students and their families an opportunity to enjoy food, fellowship, picture-taking, voter registration, selective service registration and more.
“I am so proud that this is our school’s largest graduating class of seniors. Our students are true overcomers.” Principal Lisa Cook said. “The level of perseverance and drive that our students needed to utilize, in order for them to successfully graduate, is a testament to who they are as amazing people. The pandemic has its share of sad stories, but our students have bright futures to look forward to with optimism.”
Summit Academy Secondary School – Youngstown featured a graduation video at its ceremony. The production included congratulatory messages from staff members to the 21 graduating seniors. The May 27 commencement also included speeches from Valedictorian Qualyn Matthews, Salutatorian Zachary Scanlon, junior Autumn Heap and guest speaker Derrick McDowell, founder of The Youngstown Flea Flea and Community Engagement and Inclusion Coordinator for Wean Park.
“I’m so proud of our Class of 2021 graduates,” said Principal Ashley Martin. “They overcame a ton of challenges with COVID-19 to accomplish what they did to get to where they are today.”
At Summit Academy Transition High School – Cincinnati, 23 graduates received their recognition and diplomas from Principal Steve Geresy and Board of Education President Caleb Brunner. Kaela Davis was named class valedictorian and Donovan Davis was the salutatorian. Diamond Daniels and Tyron Bryant Jr. were awarded SOAR Awards for demonstrating their success in the areas of Safety, Openness, Acceptance and Responsibility. This award is given to seniors who have had the most growth socially, emotionally and academically during their time at Summit Academy.
During Cincinnati’s ceremony, which drew about 300 guests, Geresy extended a special congratulations to the students’ parents, relatives and friends. “Truthfully, more than any other year, without their dedication, support and perseverance for their seniors and our school we wouldn’t have been as successful,” Geresy said.
Summit Academy School for Alternative Learners – Warren Secondary recognized its 16 graduates at an emotionally moving ceremony that brought some celebrants to tears. Valedictorian Kiara Haun gave a speech to the graduating students and their families. The transformation-themed ceremony took place on May 19. Each graduate read different statements about transformation, which were followed by a butterfly send-off to emphasize the message.
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.” Principal Erin Bradley shared with her graduates. “If you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things … changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before.”
At Summit Academy Transition High School – Dayton, Data Coach Steve Dishon created a commencement video that included hundreds of photos of the graduates. The slideshow featured photos of the students as babies through their graduation day.
It’s worth noting that at Summit Academy Transition High School – Dayton Valedictorian Hayley Frey is planning to continue her education to pursue a career in nursing. Throughout the past year, Frey’s umbrella cockatoo, G, made multiple appearances in Zoom classes. G was included in the acknowledgements at graduation and noted for livening up the virtual learning experience, said Principal Lisa Brown.
“The students in this class have worked very hard to overcome challenges … They ended their sophomore year early because of the tornado. Their junior year was cut short because of the pandemic and this year school … was changed to a completely different format,” Brown said. “Yet they found a way to adapt and succeed at this milestone.”
Summit Academy Transition High School – Columbus held a May 19 commencement ceremony at the Harvest Ministry Church for its 13 graduates. The students’ notable achievements thus far give a glimpse to their promising futures ahead. One of the students graduated from the Fort Hayes Career Center and another graduated with a certificate in psychology. Four of Columbus’ graduates are applying to Columbus State University while another was accepted to The Ohio State University.
“We are so proud of our students,” said Principal Trina Moore, adding that several of her recent graduates will also be working throughout the community.
Summit Academy – Toledo held its ceremony at the Maumee Indoor Theater on May 27. Sixteen students graduated this year. During the ceremony, Valedictorian Sofie Lowe, Sensei Brandon Allen and Principal Dawn Heck delivered speeches of pride and encouragement.
“It was a wonderful day to be an Eagle.” Heck said.
Summit Academy Community School for Alternative Learners – Xenia celebrated 13 graduates at its May 20 commencement ceremony. Five of the students chose to defer their diplomas in order to further their education at the Greene County Career Center.
Summit Academy School – Lorain congratulated six graduates on May 19. The keynote speaker was Kevin Honeycutt, who has worked with the students several times over the past two years. Honeycutt is an author, musician, artist and educational advocate, so his speech impacted the students deeply, according to Michael Williston.
Staff members spoke of personal memories and highlighted accomplishments of each graduate. The commencement ceremony featured a video filled with photos of the students was set to the song “Congratulations” by Post Malone. Everyone sang and danced along in their seats. Attendees reported that the emotional ceremony was filled with a mixture of laughter and tears.