|On Saturday, May 21, the 87 members of the Shorecrest Preparatory School Class of 2022 received their diplomas in the Janet Root Theatre. Among the graduating class were 4 students recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corp., a military appointment, 9 NCAA committed student-athletes, and Thespians acknowledged by the Broadway Star of the Future Awards! Five Chargers were recognized as STEAM Scholars and 10 as Global Scholars. Collectively the Class of 2022 completed over 11,000 service hours during their four years of high school - locally, nationally and virtually.|
The Commencement ceremony began with a welcome from Head of School Nancy Spencer. Ms. Spencer acknowledged that the Upper School journey of the Class of 2022 has been filled with unique challenges which they met and conquered.
“You completed your sophomore year through distance learning. You spent your junior year in an open book/open note/almost open campus environment. And then as seniors, we turned to you to lead the way back. Faced with the challenge of uniting the student body, of bringing together those bonds and sense of community which defines Shorecrest, you returned to lead the School.”
“And make no mistake, the younger students have been watching you!” She continued,” They have come out to cheer for you at athletic events, applaud for you in theater performances and be inspired by you during Service Week. … There is a sparkle in their eyes when you say hello or wave to them as you walk by. … They observe how you treat each other, how you support each other, how much you love each other. And truly, truly, they want to be like you. Throughout these past 10 months, you have been outstanding role models for the rest of the student body. For that, and for your leadership, we thank you.”
Next the audience heard from Salutatorian Ethan Danielson.
“We feel a certain sense of accomplishment today,” he shared. “We managed to enjoy ourselves and pick up a pretty decent education along the way… I expect that with time we will come to appreciate more and more how lucky we are to be a part of the Shorecrest community and what a gift we have been given.”
Ethan introduced the senior members of the Upper School Vocal Ensemble who performed the Shorecrest Alma Mater.
As a PK-12 independent school, students may spend their entire childhood at Shorecrest. Erich Schneider, Head of Upper School, recognized the 35 students from the Class of 2022 who were Shorecrest “Lifers,” having been students at Shorecrest for 12 years or more. They were awarded a longevity medal and recognized during Commencement.
The Class of 2022 Mr. Spirit, Duncan Walsh, was voted on by his peers to give a student reflection. “As we are all getting ready to leave and go start our lives, many of us, myself included, are feeling a little apprehensive about the monumental step that we are about to take,” Walsh admitted. “I didn’t realize it at the moment, but Shorecrest as a school has changed as much as I have while growing up. I have been here for a really, really, really long time. I was here before Charger Commons, I remember the old gym (the one with the wasps in the lights), and I shed tears for the Middle School churros that once were.”
“The point is while change does certainly bring challenges, there is always an opportunity for growth,” Duncan reflected. “Despite all of this change, I loved my time at Shorecrest. Going to college is just the next change that we have to tackle, and we have definitely been prepared enough for it by just attending Shorecrest.”
The seniors voted on an adult member of the Shorecrest Community to share some words of wisdom. They selected Anne Michelle Reilly Frey '02, who transitioned from teaching Middle School math to the Upper School in 2018 to serve as the Head of the Math Department, and will transition to US Academic Dean next month. Mrs. Frey, a 2002 Shorecrest graduate, is also the parent of two Chargers - Cate '28 and Jack '31.
“I want to highlight just a few examples of the incredible things your class has accomplished,” she began. “A national champion and at least 16 state champions in 4 different sports; Athletes with countless school record holders; Commissioned artists; National Merit Finalists; Songwriters and musicians who are known around Tampa Bay for their talents; Straz Theatre stars; Classmates who have started their own companies; A classmate heading off to a military academy; Award winning horseback riders and several of you have hundreds of service hours, which is especially impressive considering COVID made that challenging. But as impressive as those accomplishments are (and they are), that's not what is going to stick with me about this class. It's the heart and soul of this group.”
Cían McCarthy, no stranger to the Janet Root Theatre stage, was next to address the crowd. After 15 years as a student at Shorecrest, he revealed there will be a lot he misses.
“I’ll miss wandering over the bricks of past graduating classes. I’ll miss pulling past the parking blocks with all of your names on them. I’ll miss the theatre and the track and the senior tables and the long march to Commons. I’ll miss the ping pong—oh, I’ll miss the ping pong! But I’ll miss the camaraderie of being a Charger, the energy of Homecoming, the applause at every Monday Morning Meeting’s Shorecrest Broadcasting Club announcement. I’ll miss the people.”
He went on, “Here we are, the light at the end of the tunnel. But I don’t really like that phrase, because the light’s never been at the end of the tunnel. This tunnel has been filled with light the whole ride through. Thank you guys for being lightbulbs in a world of darkness, and I wish everyone the best of luck as they take their filaments across the world.”
It is a tradition at the Shorecrest Commencement to name an Outstanding Senior. This member of the graduating class returns in ten years to speak at Commencement. Head of Upper School, Erich Schneider, named Mikhail Whyte the Outstanding Senior of the Class of 2022. The following Monday, Mikhail came back to campus to have a photo taken with the second grade - and let them know he would be speaking at their Shorecrest graduation.
Ann Marie Hardy, Dean of Student Life, introducedLaura Peterson Addicott, the Outstanding Senior of the Class of 2012 who returned to give her Commencement Address. While at Shorecrest, Laura was a fixture on the Janet Root Theatre stage, starring in performing arts productions with Thespian Troupe 3140. She was also a competitive athlete who took her role as a mentor to younger Chargers on the cross country and track and field teams seriously. In addition to being named Outstanding Senior, Laura was also the Valedictorian for the Shorecrest Class of 2012.
Laura shared with the audience that she asked a few close friends what she should speak about at Shorecrest.
“I can not help but lead with gratitude rather than advice,” Laura began. “My big takeaway from catching up with old Shorecrest friends, former roommates from college, and grad school classmates was how grateful I am to have concentric networks of people around me. People who care enough to take time to give me suggestions for delivering an address at a high school most of them knew nothing about - other than it was in Tampa Bay; home to alligators, Busch Gardens and Tom Brady. If I were to give you all one piece of advice, it would be to grow and cultivate your networks. … really and truly invest time and energy into maintaining close relationships with families and friends from Shorecrest, while also making strong, new connections with people at every point along your individual journeys. … The friends you made here at Shorecrest may very well be the friends making future life events so special. In just the last year my friends from Shorecrest came to my wedding, went skiing with me, and cheered me on as I ran a marathon - and just last night I had dinner with my best friend from junior kindergarten. … No matter how you choose to spend your time in college there will always be new people to meet who share your interests and bring a fresh perspective.”
Michael Canizares then came forward to convey the Valedictory Address. He joked about his fear of having “peaked in high school.”
“Just In the last month I've hit a personal record in Pole Vaulting of 12’10 and qualified for States where I placed 8th in the entire state. I’ve committed to my dream college at the University of Notre Dame, and now I'm the Class of 2022 Valedictorian. It all feels like a dream at this point. In fact, for our entire grade, it seems as though we've accomplished every goal we've set for ourselves, and we've all got big futures ahead of us too. And to say I am very excited would be an understatement.”
Ms. Spencer awarded diplomas along with Chair of the Board of Trustees and Shorecrest alumni parent, Beth Vivio, while Kara Earle '05, President of the Shorecrest Alumni Association, presented Alumni pins to each graduate. Legacy students are also an important component of community-building here at Shorecrest. The Class of 2022 includes five students with at least one parent who attended Shorecrest in the past. The connections for this class are strengthened with more members having relatives who were faculty/staff members or have served on the Shorecrest Board of Trustees. These family members were invited to come on stage and hug their graduate immediately after receiving their diploma.
At Shorecrest, diplomas are not presented alphabetically, rather the seniors are called at random. The final member of the class to receive a diploma was J.C. Barrott ‘22, who then donned the golden mortarboard, a sign of good luck for the coming year.
The ceremony concluded with remarks from the President of Student Council, Stella Pagano. She quoted Deepok Chopra who said, “There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”
She added, “We should embrace the uniqueness of each of our pieces and be proud of how our class has grown together to form such a masterpiece. At this point in our lives, we make each other whole. But after today, we will have to take the puzzle apart, and our pieces will begin to find their place within another whole. The friendships, the buildings, the traditions, all that will change. Even though we are moving on to new beginnings, we will always remember the beautiful picture we created. … We will bring the tenacity, humility, camaraderie and kindness we have learned into our new communities and find our place in a new puzzle as we move on to our new beginnings - always remembering the masterpiece we have created together. And now, for the last time ever, seniors, you are dismissed!”