NORTH EAST — The Cecil County School of Technology awarded certificates of completion to 294 students in 20 vocations Tuesday night in ceremonies held under rainy skies at Rising Sun High School.
About halfway through the ceremony a gentle shower began and the wind picked up, sending some mortarboards flying. Umbrellas popped up around Tiger Stadium.
This was the first June graduation for CCST, a switch that came with the move to the new building on Appleton Road in Elkton and a change to all-year scheduling, which allows more students to take part.
CCST Principal David Dollenger shared some impressive statistics about the Class of 2018; more than 374 certifications were earned across the various trades and occupations. Almost 100 percent of the class is first aid and CPR certified, and 78 have completed capstone projects. However, the results were more than numbers, he told the audience of students, faculty, family and friends.
"You learned more than vital signs, more than how to fabricate," he said. "You learned how to problem solve. You learned attention to detail and how to meet deadlines."
In the end, he said the Class of 2018 came out with "grit, determination and resilience."
John Wright Jr., a member of the American Culinary Federation/professional cooking program, was nominated by the senior class to speak for the class. He told fellow graduates he expected they would all miss the school and all the great times that were had.
"But we will not stop here," he said. "We are setting out to be the people we want to be."
Lauren Sadowski wants to be a nurse practitioner, said her mother, Lisa Ruvola. Sadowski will move from the Lead The Way-Biomedical Science program at CCST to the nursing program at Cecil College.
"She did wonderfully at the school of tech," Ruvola said. "She loved it and the teacher was very personable."
Yonely Schreirer received her certificate in the natural resources program with an eye toward becoming a Maryland Natural Resources Police officer.
"The first day I was in the Teacher Academy program," the Elkton High School student recalled. "And I said this is not for me."
She looked at her options and made the move to natural resources.
Zack Bruckart, from North East High School, said his realization came a little later.
"About halfway through I knew I was in the right program," Bruckart said, adding he is taking his HVAC certification to work for Moon Air in Elkton.
Claude Brown has high hopes for his daughter, Jadia Brown, who received her certification in the interactive media productions program.
"She's good and computer savvy," he said of his daughter who will also graduate from Rising Sun High School.
Jadia is heading to Lincoln University in the fall to continue studying computer sciences.
Trey Lee will take his skills from the same program and use them in the family business.
"My grandparents have a real estate company," the Bohemia Manor High School student said. "I'll be designing their fliers, brochures and their website."
Chip and Jen Cooper Peterson were there to see their son, Camryn Cooper, get his certificate in automotive technology.
"It's exciting and frightening," Chip Peterson said. "You have a person you have worked hard to prepare to be an adult. You are relieved he is going out into the world and hoping he does all the right things."
Paul Cichocki just retired after many years as a roofer. There to see his nephew, Dawson Cichocki get his certificate in construction trades, he offered the Bohemia Manor graduate some sage advice.
"He wants to get into roofing and I told him no," he said, noting he's encouraging the young man to pursue the electrical field instead.
Looking out over the sea of red, white, blue and black caps and gowns, Lauren Pahutski, who completed the Project Lead the Way-Biomedical Sciences program, said she does not see the differences in each student.
"Our school is not segregated by interest, but bound by them," the Rising Sun senior said. "We all have one goal in common: success."