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Chester County Press

Kennett High School seniors count their blessings at an outdoor graduation

06/13/2022 09:59PM ● By Steven Hoffman
The revered front staircase of Kennett High School set the stage for the 134th Commencement last Friday evening.
The graduating seniors processed out the front door and down the steps, just as generations of classes have done before them.
The Kennett High School Orchestra was on hand to play “Pomp and Circumstance,” as was a musical quintet of 2022 seniors assembled to play an original interlude composition.
Class of 2022 student Kelly Salmeron-Alvarez welcomed the audience. Citing the unusual circumstances the class encountered in their journey through high school brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, she said the important thing now is, “We made it!”   
Graduating Senior Grace Pruitt sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Class President Mary Harper expressed her pride at having gone to Kennett High School and being part of the borough.  “It has encouraged me to be part of the community,” she said.
The theme of the four graduation speeches was numbers, specifically, 1932, 27, 334 and 1.
Pruitt reflected on the origins of Kennett High School, which opened in 1932 and has since educated generations of students. But she also referred to the two most recent years of virtual lessons and unusual scheduling that came with COVID-19. When they were actually allowed to return to school in person, she said, she found it surprisingly lonely, missing the conviviality that comes with the traditional class schedules.
Anne Holt focused her speech on the number 27, which is the number of steps that lead to the school entrance. The front steps, incidentally, were renovated this past year. 
“Our lives are a set of steps,” she said. 
She added that we walk through life facing various steps, some more and some not as successful as others. She advised, “Walk up your own steps. … It’s OK to walk back steps sometimes.” 
Tiffany Lee took her lead from 334, the number of students in the class. Over time, she said, it’s natural everyone will change and go in different directions, but as time goes by, “We will blossom.”
Marisol Gonzalez Flores spoke of 1 – of individuals. She praised the relatives and teachers who had helped her achieve her education and said her ultimate goal is to move forward.
The graduation ceremony took place in the school’s two-tiered parking lot, and the seating was on the front lawn. The degree-recipients ascended the steps to the stage ad received their diplomas from School Board President Vicki Gehrt, followed by handshakes from Superintendent Dusty Blakey and High School Principal Jeremy Hritz.
Before handing out the diplomas, Gehrt offered remarks citing a car trip as a metaphor for the journey through life. She told the class there would be bumps in the road, flat tires and breakdowns. But if they have courage, strength, self-discipline and friends to fall back on, they will make out OK.
Christine Olewine, a member of the Kennett High School Class of 2004, then welcomed the graduates to the alumni association. She spoke of the things they have in common with other alums through the years, including the joy of beating Unionville High School in athletic events. That received a cheer.
The two most prestigious awards, the Rupert Cup and the Advisor’s Cup were announced following the presenting of diplomas.
The Rupert Cup is the school’s highest honor, given in recognition of scholarship, school spirit and service. It was given this year to Pruitt, and her name will be inscribed on a permanent trophy in the school.
The Advisor’s Cup is given to the student who has given time and service and has served as class president.  It was awarded to Harper.
Principal Hritz delivered his blessing to the new graduates, repeating back to them what they had submitted as their take on the characteristics of the class.
The ceremony concluded with the newly-minted graduates proceeding back up the steps to the music of Handel’s “La Rejouissance” played by the high school orchestra.