CHS Graduation 2023 Will Funk You Up

The 129 graduating seniors gathered in front of Hill Auditorium, capturing final photos with friends and family, patiently awaiting the final step of their high school careers. Karim Mohamed and Margaret Alpern, two members of the Hamstra forum, shared the same bitter-sweet sentiment as they waited for the doors to open. 

“I’m excited but sad at the same time because I’m gonna miss everyone,” Alpern said. “But, you know, college is exciting.”

“I’m super excited, but also very nervous,” Mohamed said. “I’m ready to move onto the next phase of my life, but I will miss everyone dearly.”

Once the doors opened, the seniors and their loved ones filed in. As the CHS Jazz Ensemble played “Pomp and Circumstance”, the seniors entered and received a standing ovation from friends and family. After taking their seats, Dean Marci Tuzinsky came onto the stage and started the ceremony with an introduction.

“You’re all here, we love you,” Tuzinsky said. “We have a great evening planned for you. I promise, it will be like no other graduation you’ve ever attended, unless you have been to a Community High graduation.”

Promptly after, Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift took the stage to address the class of 2023, expressing her feelings of pride and excitement.

“History has called you to this moment,” Swift said. “That is your moment and acuity, and I always look forward to each of your individual moments coming out shortly.” 

After Swift, Brian Williams, one of the CHS counselors, took the stage as the presentation of diplomas was about to begin. Williams explained that in an effort to honor the bond created by the CHS forum experience, the deans step aside as each forum leader stood by their forumettes, holding the mic for each student speech. During the 30 seconds allotted for their speech, their thanks ranged from friends and family, to an original poem entitled “Ode to the Front Lawn”.

The first group of forums was Dudley, Eldon, Hechler, Qu, Vial and Whiteside. Damien Richardson, a Whiteside forumette, was the last senior of the first round, sharing his thoughts on his highschool experience.

“Hello everyone,” Richardson said. “I feel like it’s quite surreal standing here. I didn’t really expect to make it this far at all when I first started out four years ago. I was very uncertain of my future to say the least. But I feel like no matter how many strange trips along the road I made or how many bizarre, asinine mistakes, like the time I drank a vial of poison in Courtney Kiley’s science class. I still had people around me, around the school to guide me to a form of idiocy and it’s a little bit more controlled. So, given that information, I want to thank the staff at Community and especially, my mother and my grandparents for their contributions, thank you.”

During the brief intermission, the CHS Jazz took the stage; a sea of saxophones, a flute, drums, a guitar, fedoras and shades produced their rendition of the popular song, “Up Town Funk You Up” which was sung by Lila Fetter and Marisa Andoni-Savas, two CHS juniors. 

For the second round of forums, the Kilgore forum took the stage while the Mankad, Root, Silvester and Yager forums lined up in the queue. 

Second in line of the Mankad form, Kevin Dutton expressed his gratitude to CHS and his mentors.

“I’ve had the privilege to go to Community and for everything that’s happened the past four years,” Dutton said. “I want to give a special thank you to Maneesha for the endless support in forum, my personal life and mathematics. My friends are the lifelong memories in my daily life of always being there and supporting me.”

Finally, as the Yager forum filed back into the audience, Tuzinksy and Assistant Dean Rebbeca Westrate came to the stage to present awards to six special individuals of the class of 2023. The awards are: The Jill Award, the Community Resource Award, the Judith DeWoskin Award, The Dean Al Gallup Scholarship and the Bruce Bartman Memorial Scholarship.

The winners were as follows.

The Jill Award honors the student who make the school a happier place: Elizabeth Strumba 

The Community Resource Award honors student who uses the CR program to its fullest: Raffi Avedissian and Rita Ionides

The Judith DeWoskin Award honors excellence in creative and analytical writing: Nadya Matish

The Dean Al Gallup Scholarship honors student with outstanding service to CHS who worked to create a program that betters the school as whole: Navi Fields

The Bruce Bartman Memorial Scholarship honors the student who took best advantage of CHS alternative programs and best demonstrates Community’s ideals: Ria Lowenschuss

Afterwards, the third round of forums was about to commence. The order was Anderson, Brent, Landrum, Johnson, Mosher and Starkey.

Second in line, Scarlett London took the opportunity to thank four teachers who greatly impacted her high school experience, in addition to the entire 2023 class.

“I’d like to take this time to thank Marci Harris for always liking my instagram posts, Laurel for never making me bring snack for the forum, JTP for teaching me that I can’t run from momentum, and Tracy for always having a better outfit than me and inspiring me to try harder every day,” London said. “I’d also like to thank my parents for making me play board games every time I really needed to do homework. To everyone graduating today, I cannot wait to see the amazing things you will do and I’ll think of you all every time I see a horrendous parking job.”

“To everyone graduating today, I cannot wait to see the amazing things you will do and I’ll think of you all every time I see a horrendous parking job.”

— Scarlett London

Once the Starkey forum excited off, members of CET including lead soloist Jacqueline Boynton, CHS sophomore, gathered themselves on stage to perform “Mein Herr ” from the musical “Cabaret”, the show they performed in early March. 

As there was an uproar of applause, it was time for the last and final round of diploma distribution, beginning with the Crabtree forum and followed by the Hamstra Forum.

One Hamstra senior, Eve Kaplan, used her 30 seconds to share her growth from freshman to senior year.

“I’ve changed so much throughout my time at Community and I often say I don’t recognize the person who I was at the beginning of highschool,” Kaplan said. “But over the past couple of months, as we’ve had so many milestones, I felt that last and struggling past version of myself coming to the surface in a more positive way. I feel how relieved freshman year Eve would be. People weren’t lying when they said how supportive Community teachers and staff are. I feel how proud freshman year Eve would be that I made it past the doubts, some from others, but mostly from myself, to pursue my passion for theater in college. And more than anything, I will always be so grateful for the people that have unconditionally loved every version of me they’ve witnessed. From the family that has continuously grown with me to the newer, unexpected relationships that made my high school experience so memorable, I wouldn’t be in the place I am today if it weren’t for my amazing support system.” 

Next, the Kiley forum took the stage. And last but not least, the Hunscher-Young forum concluded. Shortly after, the seniors threw their caps into the air as the CHS Jazz Ensemble energetically played “Pomp and Circumstance” one last time. The night concluded with plenty of hugs, tears, laughter and chatter as the now-graduates took pictures with friends and family, commemorating this meaningful milestone.