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2011 UCPS graduates make history

Graduating seniors at Cuthbertson High School wait for the ceremony to begin Saturday, June 11, 2011. CHS graduation was held at the Pointe Recreation and Community Center, in For Mill, SC, with 169 seniors marching.

Union County Public Schools 2011 graduates stepped across quite a few milestones this year, with three UCPS schools celebrating their 50th graduation, while two others celebrated their first.

Scholarships awarded to the approximately 2,440 graduating seniors almost doubled from last year, with preliminary figures reaching close to a staggering $72 million. The approximately 2,170 seniors graduating in 2010 brought in $48.5 million.

Forest Hills, Parkwood and Sun Valley High Schools celebrated their 50th graduation, marking a rich history of generations passing through their doors. Cuthbertson High School and Union County Early College High School celebrated their first graduations. CHS graduated 169 seniors, while Early College graduated 32 students back in May.

Cuthbertson school officials worked tirelessly for more than a year to create a graduation that would be worthy of the magnitude of the first graduation. It was held Saturday in Fort Mill, SC.

"We want to make sure that they feel this ceremony is truly reflective of their time at Cuthberston," said graduation coordinator Dawn Dillner just prior to the ceremony. "We just want to make it special. These are amazing kids. This needs to be a great ceremony for them. They deserve it."

Cuthbertson High principal Rob Jackson said not only are students excited about being the first graduating class, they're also humbled by the significance.

"You think about generations of students who will follow our graduating class of 2011. What they will encounter will be so deeply affected by this first graduating class," Jackson said. "They've created this amazing foundation. Generations from now, students will still be graduating from CHS but they will all be impacted by what will happen at the first graduation."

Cuthbertson students came from three schools: Parkwood High, Weddington High and Marvin Ridge High Schools.

"We tried to combine a little bit from each school, yet at the same time, make it our own and really make an impact on the community," said 18-year-old senior class president William Moll. "I feel that being the legacy class has really pushed us and given us the motivation to go forward and set the traditions that we wanted to be set."

"It's going to be neat to know we left behind a lot of traditions, like at homecoming and pep rallies," said 17-year-old CHS student body vice president Sarah Wilson. "It's great knowing the school will have a lot of fun from what we've been able to set up, with our traditions."

One thing students, faculty and staff frequently mention as a strength at CHS is the school-wide feeling of being part of a big family. "It's wonderful to be an honor school of excellence, to have back-to-back teachers of the year and the state principal of the year, state championships in soccer and tennis, regional championships, and all those band trophies, but the thing I'm proudest of is the family feel that our school has," Jackson said.

"I believe our students are prepared for college, a career or the military, wherever they're headed to. But I hope what students take away is they say, 'I want to create that same feeling in all that I do, whether it's my workplace or the school community I'm involved in, or it's just my own family as I get older; the importance of being in a place where everyone is encouraged and uplifted is important to me'."

CHS student body president Trent Johnson, 18, said leadership shown by CHS graduating seniors has been a huge strength of the school.

"The leadership for the entire senior class has been a big part of our success. Everyone has stepped up to lead the school, whether on the sports field or in the classroom," Johnson said. "The leadership for the senior class has been a big part of our success for the past few years. I think we've been a big part of getting things under way. Hopefully, future students will show the same kind of leadership in their classes."

Watch the highlights from Early College, Cuthbertson, Forest Hills, Parkwood and Sun Valley high schools.

Written by: Deb Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Photos in video by: Arthur Rogers, Deb Bledsoe, Don Mace and Luan Ingram
Video by: Don Mace, UCPS Web Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jun 16, 2011 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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