Community News Service
Despite upwards of 400 chairs, graduation in the Shelburne Community School was standing-room only.
Relatives of the 87 members of the graduating class came from far and wide, such as Stan Williams.
He traveled all the way from Naples, Fla., for last Thursday’s ceremony and to see his grandson, eighth-grader Samuel Williams.
“It’s basically my first time here,” he said, before finding his family and taking a seat.
Megan Costa and her three boys were recent arrivals to the school. Her oldest, Kyle Costa, was graduating only a couple of months after transferring. Still, she said, he had found a place at the school.
“Shelburne school is amazing for my kids,” Costa said. “Kyle really loved the Chill Program, which is snowboarding,”
The event began with music from the school’s Wind Ensemble, which played several times throughout the ceremony. Singers in the 8th grade concert choir also gave their final performance.
The first major speaker of the evening was school alumna Luke Sweeney, who graduated from Champlain Valley Union High School the following day. His remarks focused on his transition to high school and the importance of empathy.
“There’s no piece of advice I can give you to prepare you for the next four years,” he said, “but if I’ve learned one thing from people far wiser than I, it’s that empathy will make them easier.”
After the event, Sweeney reflected on his experience at Shelburne Community School.
“It’s very interesting coming back to my middle school,” he said. “It’s nice to see everything come full circle. When I was given this opportunity at first I wasn’t sure, but looking back I’m glad I did.”
Principal Scott Sivo cut some of his own parts from the ceremony in order to include more student input, such as an eight-minute video of what students remembered from their time at the school.
He did give a small address in which he described the graduates.
“This is a special class,” Sivo said. “They represent us and our community so well.”
The student council also featured prominently, with each member speaking on topics such as family or their classmates.
Graduate Gabriel Nelson was one of those student council members.
“My time at the school has been really fun,” he said after the ceremony. “I did a lot of new things, and I just had a great experience.”
After the ceremony, there was little time to talk and take photos. The event was on a tight schedule with graduates whisked onto a bus to head to the Burlington waterfront for a school graduation tradition – a dinner dance on Lake Champlain aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen.
Community News Service is a collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program.
Shelburne Community School Class of 2019
Kai Jenkins Mui
Iris Miller Bottoms
Beva Roberts Williams