It was a graduation like no others and will long be remembered.
Mattamuskeet Early College High School seniors, innovatively adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduated virtually and outdoors on May 23.
Earlier in the month, the 35 seniors were videotaped at the MECHS gymnasium dressed in their caps and gowns to receive their “diplomas.”
The stage was decorated as it would be for a typical graduation ceremony, and following COVID-19 safety protocols, the students were permitted to bring two family members to witness their child crossing the stage.
All students who were chosen to give speeches also recorded their speeches at this time as did Principal Wesley Floyd. Commencement speaker Pierce Freelon, a professor, musician and social entrepreneur, recorded his speech at his home in Durham. You can see it by clicking here.
Floyd, Superintendent Stephen Basnight and the MECHS Teacher of the Year Jennifer Cahoon presented diplomas.
Julio Morales, Hyde County public information officer, videoed the students and the company Apptegy donated their services to create the overall video. Cindy Carawan took photos.
Junior marshals and seniors staying the fifth year also had the opportunity to have their photos taken.
Then on graduation day, May 23, seniors, junior marshals and upcoming fifth-year seniors participated in a parade across Lake Mattamuskeet along with fire trucks from Engelhard, Swan Quarter and Fairfield. Local police led the procession.
Community members lined Lake Road to cheer on the seniors.
Each senior, marshal and upcoming fifth-year senior were allowed one vehicle in the parade that held themselves and their family members. Each vehicle was decorated to honor the graduate.
Parade participants entered the high school parking lot to watch the previously recorded graduation video in a drive-in-movie fashion on a 24-foot screen.
The ceremony was live-streamed on the Mattamuskeet Campus Facebook page. Verizon provided internet access for the streaming.
Then, the seniors stepped outside their vehicles. Principal Floyd pronounced them graduates and the students turned their tassels, then returned to their vehicles.
The students were given their diplomas and congratulatory lawn signs as they exited the parking lot after the ceremony.
The following are the graduates and their post-high school plans:
Jackson Gray Harris, valedictorian and summa cum laude, attend East Carolina University to study business management.
Laney Mackenzie Gibbs, salutatorian and summa cum laude, plans to attend the University of North Carolina Wilmington to study in creative writing.
Karina Corona-Beltran plans to attend Cape Fear Community College to receive her degree as a dental hygienist.
Breja’ Ania Bowden plans to attend Pitt County Community College to study nursing.
Dawson Lee Brooks plans to become a commercial fisherman.
Ivy Adonte’ Malik Burrus plans to go to college to study welding.
Deborah Lynne Cahoon plans to enter the workforce.
John Aubrey Cahoon, cum laude, plans to study fabrication welding at Beaufort County Community College.
Ashley Del Carmen Garcia Cerino, magna cum laude, plans to attend Paul D. Camp Community College to become a registered nurse.
Alissa Michelle Clay plans to attend college and study the culinary arts.
Matthew Allen Clayton, an honor student, plans to pursue a career in welding.
Lakayla Aniyah Cooper plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and become a television and film actress.
Xavier Soloman Cooper plans to enlist in the U.S. military.
Emily Claire Swindell-Creque plans to receive a master’s degree in theater arts and pursue her goal of performing on Broadway.
Michael Zachary Eakes, an honor graduate, plans to attend Cape Fear Community College to obtain his license in real estate.
Harvey McAuthor Farrow III, plans to attend the School of Arts at the University of North Carolina to pursue a career in music, acting and writing.
Juan Jose Galeana-Garcia, an honor graduate, plans to attend Beaufort County Community College to receive a degree in business.
Xa’Vier Tyriq Gibbs, an honor graduate, plans to go to college to study engineering.
Carlos Zavion Harris plans to enter the workforce.
Emily Grace Harris, summa cum laude, will attend East Carolina University to study business marketing.
Khelci Elizabeth Hostetler, an honor graduate, plans to attend college and major in business.
Ariel Tyrese Jordan plans to attend Beaufort Community College to receive an associate degree in applied science for welding and business administration.
Carl Wayne Pugh, an honors graduate, plans to attend Beaufort County Community College to receive a degree in agricultural business and technology.
Charlotte Marie Rebstock plans to attend college and study nursing.
Devonte Kendarias Riddick plans to receive a degree in basic law Enforcement at Beaufort County Community College.
Jose Julian Guzman Sanchez, summa cum laude, plans to attend East Carolina University to receive a degree in computer science.
Isaac Nathaniel Spencer plans to attend Western Carolina University and obtain a degree in forensic anthropology.
Jashawn Omari Spencer plans to attend Pitt Community College and study the culinary arts.
Michael Howard Spruill Jr. plans to continue working in Hyde County at Alligator River Growers.
Samuel Charles Stewart, summa cum laude, plans to attend Pfeiffer University to study counseling and human services.
Joshua Hunter Swain plans to join the U.S. Navy.
Staryln Zoi-Elizabeth Swain, summa cum laude, plans to study biology at Mid-Atlantic and eventually pursue a degree in pharmacy.
ShiAnn Dallace Thompson, cum laude, plans to pursue a career in nursing.
Nia Adorian Whitfield, an honor graduate, plans to enlist in the U. S. military.
Chase Edward Williford, summa cum laude, plans to attend Barton College to study business.