On June 9, nearly 900 households tuned in to watch a virtual ceremony as Cape High seniors were named graduates of the Class of 2020.
Class valedictorian and President Anna Stancofski said the class made a lot of memories together as they moved up from the bottom of the bleachers where they sat as freshmen to finally win the Spirit Stick as seniors.
“If anyone can make it through this, it’s us,” she said, and she challenged classmates to help parents and neighbors, and to use this time as a way to get used to change. “It’s not the ending to our senior year we imagined, but we will get through this, and one day we will make all those memories we are so patiently waiting to make.”
Anna said she learned a lot from her peers, who she said are talented in the fields of athletics, music, dance, academics and community service. She told students to be kind and empathetic, to be tolerant and to respect the differences of others.
“You can learn a lot from those who are different than you,” she said.
Principal Nikki Miller urged students not to let the current situation take away from their accomplishments. She said the Class of 2020 was conscientious and strong, accumulating more volunteer hours than any other class, and that the class decided to donate any extra funds remaining after the purchase of the class gift to a foundation in need of support.
“You are a generation who is going to change our world for the better because of your ability to face adversity and overcome,” Miller said.
Cape Superintendent Bob Fulton told the class of 2020 he has been proud to watch students grow and succeed over the past 13 years.
“You’ve accomplished all these things because you are leaders, not followers,” Fulton said. “And, you can accomplish more as a team than you can alone. Approach life as you did as a student at Cape, and you will be happier and reach a high level of success.”
Fulton told students to surround themselves with friends who do the right thing and help achieve goals, who lift them up and don’t bring them down.
Class Treasurer Dania Cannon presented the class gift, a set of six Adirondack chairs, three yellow and three blue, to welcome students and staff in the school courtyard.
Class Vice President Sky Dunmyer introduced the commencement speaker, Cape grad and country music star Jimmie Allen, whom she called a role model for Cape kids and an inspiration for all to follow their dreams.
As he opened his speech, Allen reminisced on his own graduation day in 2004.
“I was thinking, ‘I know what I want to do with my life, but what are the steps I need to take to achieve that goal?’” Allen said. “Success is just about doing what makes you happy. Even before I got my record deal, I felt I was successful. I was [working as a] server during the day or at Walmart, or substitute teacher, or a janitor for a while. I still felt successful, because at night I got to go out and sing. Really, that’s what life is all about – working hard, being there for the people who love you, being good to people, and just doing what makes you happy.”
Allen told students to figure out what success means to them.
“Ultimately, you’re the only person that can make you happy,” he said. “It took me years to learn that lesson, but you are the only person that can make you happy, and you are the only person that controls your destiny. On your journey you’ll hear ‘no’s,’ but life isn’t about the ‘no’s.’ Life is about fighting, and working on your craft and whatever your career journey may be.”
Allen told students to enjoy life and learn from their mistakes, rather than run from them.
“We all make mistakes. I make them all the time,” he said. “What are you doing with your mistakes? Are you just pushing them to the side? Are you saying ‘Man, I made a mistake!’ and beating yourself up? Or are you saying, ‘I made a mistake here, but I can learn from that and apply it to my journey of reaching my end goal?’”
Allen said he was honored to be chosen as graduation speaker and proud to be a Cape alumnus.
“Everywhere I go, people hear about Cape. People hear about Delaware. I’m sure they’re sick of it!” he said. “Every radio interview, every time I’m on TV, I mention my hometown because we have special people there. So wherever your next step takes you in life, just remember you have a hometown, you have friends, and you have family that are proud of you and they love you. Love yourself. That’s the most important thing.”
The names of all graduates were read as student portraits flashed across the screen. As the clock counted down in the virtual waiting room leading up to the ceremony, a video displayed photos of seniors taken throughout the school year, and messages of farewell and luck from Cape High teachers, counselors, administrators and staff.