Last Updated: Jun 17th, 2014 - 13:37:30


Colonial Heights High School Class of 2014
By David Breidenbach, Correspondent
Jun 17, 2014, 13:29

DAVID BREIDENBACH/CORRESPONDENT Members of the Colonial Heights High School Class of 2014 toss their caps in the air Friday evening at the graduation ceremony.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — An hour before the 2014 commencement was due to start for the Colonial Heights High School seniors, mother nature capped an afternoon full of showers with a deluge that knocked down trees, soaked the bleachers, and flooded the football field.

For the first time in more than 40 years, it seemed as if the 212 graduating seniors at Colonial Heights might have to do the unthinkable and move their graduation ceremony to the gym.

But as the seniors were getting their caps and gowns out and dressing for the biggest day of their high school lives, the school staff had already sprung into action. Leaf blowers hummed as the custodial staff worked their way down both sets of bleachers, pushing the rain water away. Other staff members pulled together the stage and podium, wiped down the chairs, set up flowers, and made sure the sound system was a go.

Nikki Faison sat in the west side stands, marking room for her friends and relatives who would be coming to watch her daughter, Courtney Faison, make those final steps across the stage to pick up here diploma, effectively ending high school life. Despite the rain, wind, and lightning, Nikki Faison never once doubted that the graduation would take place at the football field and on time.

“I was not worried at all. You just have to have faith,” she said.

Faith and the full support of every facet of the school’s staff. Teachers were carrying chairs and setting things up. Jim Crinkley, who retired this year after 43 years of service, was bringing in chairs from the field house. And many others were there to make sure that this graduation would be as smooth as any that have taken place there over the past 40 years. According to some school officials, it has been at least that long since the graduation ceremony had been rained out.

The importance of using the football field for graduation cannot be underestimated. The crowds of parents, siblings, and friends who come to the graduations would not be able to fit in the gym. Each senior would be limited to only a few tickets, and some people would have to sit in the auditorium and cafeteria and watch the ceremony on TV.

But on this day, faith found a way. The skies cleared and despite what appeared to be swirling weather, the graduation took place but not completely as expected. In order to make sure the seniors graduated, the school administration reversed the program handing out the diplomas first, in case mother nature choose to play another card in the graduation game, and then presenting the speeches from Class President Sydney Ashton Peterson; Salutatorian Anna Meredith Scott; and Valedictorian Anna-Claire Virginia Bousquet.

The speakers covered their educational foundation that had transpired from the very earliest days at school, and how they had grown over the years to become the students they now were sitting in the audience. They spoke to the time they had spent in the classes, the teachers who led them through the years, and how life wasn’t over with graduation. They talked most about the future, and how their high school days merely led to life’s path. Now, they said, it was time to move forward.

Like the storm clouds that had built up around them earlier, you could sense the students’ pending desire to move on. As Colonial Heights High School Principal Kristin Jansen had the seniors turn their tassels, the group erupted with hoots and their caps floated through the skies.

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