As they walked across the stage, turning their tassels one-by-one and posing for photos, the joy was evident on the faces of the newest Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School graduates — now former Falcons as they flew the nest.
They’re not just leaving the new senior lounge, also titled “The Nest.” With the majority of the class going to college out of state — some even out of the country — they’ll soon be flying the nests that are their homes.
During their ceremony at Harvest United Methodist Church in Lakewood Ranch on Friday night, the now former students were reminded of the past years spent at Saint Stephen’s, but to also be in the moment and enjoy the night.
MaryAnn Placheril invited her fellow classmates to hold hands and say hello to those sitting around them.
“The future is waiting for you through those doors, don’t let it consume you before it has to,” Placheril said.
Several other speakers told the students that their future is just the beginning, and they can go on to do great things. Maybe someday, a Google search of their own names will show more than their high school accomplishments, Hiu Lam Vanessa Yan said.
Dozens of awards were presented to students and several more students were asked to stand and be recognized for outstanding achievements.
As much as their accolades, featured graduation speaker and Saint Stephen’s alumnus Michael Schick reminded the students to value their perseverance and time.
The ceremony also recognized 16 Forever Falcons, students who had been at the school their entire academic career.
But the ones who stole the show were the Fledglings, a group of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, who performed a version of “Can’t Stop the Feeling” for the crowd. They received several cheers and a standing ovation from the graduates.
Garret Barnes received a Lifetime Achievement award from the school during graduation for his service on the Board of Trustees.
Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School
Graduates: 78 students
Graduating class: 42nd graduating class
Speakers: Head of School Dr. Janet Pullen, Upper and Middle School Director Andrew Forrester, Class of 2007 graduate Michael Schick, graduating students Caleb Eyrem, MaryAnn Placheril, Hiu Lam Vanessa Yan.
Shining moment: As their senior class gift, the class of 2017 paid for the completion of the senior lounge known as “The Nest,” and it was done in time for them to use their senior year.
Interesting fact: Graduation address speaker Michael Schick said he graduated from Saint Stephen’s by the skin of his teeth, but he went on to graduate at the top of his class from MIT.
Best quote: “Let us move a step forward toward being impactful citizens whom our school, our friends, our family, and most importantly, we ourselves, can be proud of. And in 20 years, Google will tell,” Yan said.