Tears, hugs, laughter—graduation, Spring Street style

Smiles aplenty for the Class of 2012 following Spring Street International School
Smiles aplenty for the Class of 2012 following Spring Street International School's Commencement, June 9, at San Juan Community Theatre.
— image credit: Steve Wehrly

By Steve Wehrly/Journal reporter

Tears and hugs and laughter were in abundance at the Spring Street International School graduation, Saturday, June 9.

Not all the emotions were from the three young men and seven young women who were leaving their school, however.

When childhood photos of each graduate were projected on the screen at the San Juan Community Theater, teary eyes could be seen and laughter, and even a few audible gasps, were heard from both the stage and the audience. Parents and their kids realized the days of their childhood were past.

Louis O’Prussack, head of the school, had earlier welcomed the families with appreciation for all they had done to bring the ten to this “beginning” – and he stressed to his soon-to-be-discharged troupe that the word commencement meant beginning, a beginning "you are now prepared for."

Each student stood and was individually addressed by English teacher Heather June, as young music teacher and composer Grisha Krivchenia serenaded each one with piano pieces by Chopin, Beethoven and other composers, including three by Grisha himself. “You are vivacity, Marta,” said Heather to Marta Bill, as Grisha played a fitting tune, Chopin's sprightly Mazurka in F Major.

Five scholarships were presented. Valedictorian Juliane Hagn, graduating magna cum laude and on her way to St. Olaf’s College in Minnesota, received several thousand dollars from three scholarships from the San Juan Community Foundation, the Soroptimists and Dollars for Scholars.

Salutatorian Joan Downs, graduating cum laude, was awarded the Island Arts scholarship. Reuben Delay, also graduating cum laude, was awarded the American Legion Scholarship, which he will use at St. Mary's College in California.

Conservation biologist and author Thor Hanson delivered (in 12 minutes, as promised) a commencement speech encouraging the Class of 2012 to challenge themselves and challenge the status quo as they moved toward their futures.

O'Prussack then handed out diplomas, moving the tassel on each mortarboard from right to left, with a big hug for each graduate.

Applause filled the auditorium, the new graduates threw their mortarboards into the audience, and families swarmed the stage for hugs, handshakes and photos. The crowd then moved to the rehearsal room next door for more photos, hugs and refreshments. Another class, another rite of passage--the future on the horizon.


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