47 Graduate in 65th Commencement

Capping off what has been a most unusual year, on Friday night, June 26, 2020, the 47 members of the Class of 2020 – finally—had their commencement ceremony.

The original graduation date—the more traditional May 30—had to be canceled due to the closure of School and the Thrasher-Horne Center caused by the coronavirus. But as School and area businesses began to reopen after the extended Spring closure, a new date was quickly secured. Though Florida remains in “phase 2” of reopening, which limited attendance at the socially-distanced 65th St. Johns Commencement. Families were seated in blocks of four, with space between each block. Each family received up to two blocks of four seats, and everyone else was invited to join the ceremony by livestream. And it wasn’t just the audience that was distanced—the graduates themselves were spaced apart on the stage, and afterwards, guests went outside to take photos and greet the graduates. The Thrasher-Horne Center also asked everyone in attendance to wear masks.

Otherwise, the ceremony was very much in keeping with St. Johns tradition, and graduates, families, and faculty alike all breathed a heavy sigh of relief that the School was able to schedule and host it in these unusual times.

“The Class of 2020 has had to give up so much that we really wanted them to have their graduation,” said Head of Upper School and Acting Head of School Mary Virginia Fisher. “They missed their prom, their trip to the zoo with their first graders, athletics senior nights, and so much more. It was important for them to have this.”

And so they did, and other than the masks and social distancing, it wasn’t much different from the 64 commencements that came before. In keeping with School tradition, Graduation Speakers were elected from among the seniors. This year, seniors auditioned for the role via a Zoom conference call, and students voted online for their favorites. The voting was tied, however, so slightly atypically, three speakers were selected: Parker Robbins, Kendall Sage, and Joshua Soffler.

After an introduction by newly elected Student Council President Maggie Kent ’21, the three seniors took turns at the podium, talking about their early days at St. Johns and how much they have learned from each other over the years.  Robbins recalled the early days of kindergarten and discussed how many of his classmates have inspired him in one way or another.

Sage observed that the Class of 2020 is always going to be strong, determined, and resilient. They were born into the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and graduate among a global pandemic. Their lives are bookended by these two great tragedies, so what more could life bring them, what could they possibly not be able to handle after these things? And Soffler declared that the pandemic and its related events have helped them all become stronger, better people.  “While we have no control over what problems the world has given us,” he said, “we have the ability to choose how we will respond to these challenges. These experiences, good and bad, have made us become stronger and wiser.  They have shaped us and helped us grow into adults.”

After tremendous applause for these inspiring talks, diplomas were presented. Reading each graduate’s accomplishments and the college or university each has chosen to attend, Mrs. Fisher and President of the Board of Trustees Mr. Rick Gregson bestowed the diplomas.

Congratulations to these 47 new St. Johns alumni, and best of luck on all of your future endeavors!

 

Class of 2020 Graduation Awards:

Valedictorian Award:  Jordan Sierra Sabo

Edwin Paul Heinrich Award:  Sheila Alfredia Hodges

Dora Helen Skypek Award: Sahaj Rahul Patel

Stephen F. Russey Best All-Around Young Man:  Jackson William Powers

Stephen F. Russey Best All-Around Young Woman:  Elizabeth Renee Stoeber

The Roddey R. Fisher Award: Jackson William Powers

Leadership Award:

Anthony Brent Morris
Rita Sinclair Trammell
Joshua David Soffler
Joseph Shimko III

Service Award:

Emily Grace Serrano
Ruihong Wang
Nasua’ Tamyah Williams
Sahaj Rahul Patel
Sheila Alfredia Hodges

English Award: Elizabeth Renee Stoeber

The Carol A. Hart Math Award:  Jordan Sierra Sabo

Science Award: Emily Grace Serrano

Art Award: Zoë Celestine Roberts

French Award: Elizabeth Renee Stoeber

Spanish Award:  Christian Kuriakos Sabbagh

The Myrtle O’Shea Latin Award:  Emily Grace Serrano

Cynthia C. Landry History Award: Joshua David Soffler

Drama Award for Theatrical Performance: Ian Spencer Duncan

Drama Award for Technical Theatre: Ryan Patrick Croft and Jackson Dean Hodges

Music Instrumental Award: Elizabeth Renee Stoeber

Music Vocal Award: Valerie Victoria Cabrera

Computer Science Award: Sahaj Rahul Patel

Captain Borries Cup Award: Jackson Dean Hodges

Linda C. Guswiler Athletic Award: Courtney Nicole Sage

 

Members of the Class of 2020 Include:

Victor Tillman Avery

Liam Benjamin Bielik

Marshall Xavier Bustamante
Member, National Honor Society

Valerie Victoria Cabrera
Member, Cum Laude Society
Member, National Honor Society
National Merit Scholar
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Ryan Patrick Croft

Pacey Maine Cummings
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Riley Scott Davidson
Member, National Honor Society

Ian Spencer Duncan
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Rentz Connor Foster
Member, National Honor Society

Grayson Kincaid Hall
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Kyla Kai-Yue Hartwell
Member, National Honor Society

Lea Kai-Lu Hartwell
Member, National Honor Society

Victoria Grace Hayes

Kena Lynn Herrera

Jackson Dean Hodges

Sheila Alfredia Hodges
Member, Cum Laude Society
Member, National Honor Society

Carolina Kate Hollis
Member, Cum Laude Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Jessica LeMae Linge
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Stuart Wallace Mackenzie

Michael Allen Maytin
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Anthony Brent Morris
Member, National Honor Society

Derek Jerod Neal Jr.

Jordan Ashlee Noble
Member, Cum Laude Society
Member, National Honor Society

Isabella Kristine Ottey
Member, National Honor Society

Sahaj Rahul Patel
Member, Cum Laude Society
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Delaney Joi Payton
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Lilly Grace Peterson
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Jackson William Powers
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Parker Douglas Robbins
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Zoë Celestine Roberts
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Kylie Veronica Rodriguez
Member, National Honor Society

Ella Marie Rothberg

Christian Kuriakos Sabbagh
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Jordan Sierra Sabo
Member, Cum Laude Society
Member, National Honor Society

Lindsey Nicole Sabo
Member, Cum Laude Society
Member, National Honor Society
National Merit Scholar

Courtney Nicole Sage
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Kendall Alexandra Sage
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Emily Grace Serrano
Member, National Honor Society

Joseph Shimko III
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Joshua David Soffler
Member, Cum Laude Society
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Braden Robert Steiner
Member, National Honor Society

Elizabeth Renee Stoeber
Member, Cum Laude Society
Member, National Honor Society

Rita Sinclair Trammell
Member, National Honor Society

Ruihong Wang

Nasua’ Tamyah Williams

James Makoto Woolard
Member, Cum Laude Society
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool

Liam Tadashi Woolard
Member, National Honor Society
St. Johns Student Since Preschool