Horizon holds emotional graduation ceremony

EVANSTON — The Horizon High School graduation ceremony took place Friday, June 1, at the Davis Middle School auditorium, where six young men and six young women received their high school diplomas. The graduates include Taylor Burnett, Merinda Burns, Caitlin Cottrell, Vera Degraw, David Dynneson, Darryl Goss, Chase Hall, Xavier Hart, Konnor Jaimez, Selina Jesse, Gavin Lewis, Paige Limb, Nadine Mariscal, Camden Martinez, Dylan Smart and Denise Villegas.

Principal Shad Hamilton welcomed graduates, parents, teachers, staff and administration. He said he was pleased to report that, for four years running, the students at Horizon have rated their school as above average. Hamilton praised the teachers, staff, and students for pulling together to make it a very successful year despite having to deal with slashed budgets.

He acknowledged Brenda Gerrard and thanked her for her years of teaching the culinary arts course. Gerrard is leaving Horizon and returning full-time to the district cafeteria. Candi DeCoite will replace Gerrard as culinary art instructor in the fall. 

Student speaker Chase Hall thanked Horizon staff, teachers and Principal Hamilton for helping him learn from his mistakes and to stick with school. He talked about his changes and how Horizon had helped him become a better person. He brought laughter from the audience and fellow students when he talked about some of his misbehavior.

Hamilton then presented scholarship recognition. Xavier Hart was presented with a WWCC Institutional GEAR UP Scholarship, a GEAR UP Federal Scholarship, Hathaway Scholarship and a Workforce Competency Credential. Merinda Burns received a Workforce Competency Credential, and Caitlin Cottrell received a Hathaway Scholarship.

Hamilton then presented military recognition to two students. Pvt. Chase Hall joined the National Guard and will do basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He will then go on to advanced training at Fort Lee, Virginia. He plans to train to be an ammunition specialist. Pvt. Caitlin Cottrell, also in the National Guard, will do basic and advanced training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Her specialty will be motor transportation operator. She will receive a $20,000 bonus after she completes basic and advanced training.

Special education teacher Annette Swayze gave the keynote address. She will be leaving Horizon next fall and is being transferred to Davis Middle School. She gave a heartwarming and personal speech, addressing each graduate with gentle advice and encouragement. She brought up special moments and memories with each of them.

Much-loved and respected former Horizon science teacher Alex Katchuk came to the ceremony to see the students he had taught and to give a surprise performance of his original song “I’m So Glad That You Were There,” which brought tears to the eyes of many students and teachers.

More In Homepage