Graduation: for the students, by the students

Students of Patch High School's Class of 2014 toss their mortar boards in the air after moving the tassle from right to left, indicating their status as graduates--Photo by Greg Jones, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Students of Patch High School’s Class of 2014 toss their mortar boards in the air after moving the tassle from right to left, indicating their status as graduates–Photo by Greg Jones, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

By S.J. Grady
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

The Patch High School Class of 2014 completed its final task June 3 at the Stadthalle in Sindelfingen as seniors walked the graduation line.

One-hundred-seventy-two students crossed the stage to receive their diplomas during the school’s 35th commencement exercise.

The class as a whole had an impressive track record: a 100 percent graduation rate, well above the U.S. national average of 80 percent, more than 30 students with a 4.0 grade point average and a National Merit Scholarship finalist.

In the words of Dana Lussier, the senior class president, “We basically won high school.”

The evening was all about the students, beginning with the processional, followed by the presentation of the colors by the PHS Junior ROTC, and the German and U.S. anthems sung by a chorus comprised of seniors. The PHS graduation band, led by music director Alan Landers, accompanied them.

As senior class president, Lussier officially welcomed families, friends and teachers and then proceeded to snap a selfie to the laughter and delight of the audience.

Three student speakers followed: Connor Swanson, salutatorian; Samuel Taylor, selected by his fellow students as the senior class presenter; and Anthony LoGrande, valedictorian.

The speakers all complimented their classmates, commenting on their drive and determination. They kept their remarks brief, but humorous, obviously intent on getting to the point of the ceremony: the diploma.

Seniors Kyler Tingey (left) and Samuel Taylor perform an original musical composition during the Patch High School 2014 commencement exercises June 3, at the Stadthalle in Sindelfingen. One-hundred-seventy-two students crossed the stage for a class graduation rate of 100 percent. – Photo by Greg Jones, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Seniors Kyler Tingey (left) and Samuel Taylor perform an original musical composition during the Patch High School 2014 commencement exercises June 3, at the Stadthalle in Sindelfingen. One-hundred-seventy-two students crossed the stage for a class graduation rate of 100 percent. – Photo by Greg Jones, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Sandwiched between speeches, seniors Samuel Taylor and Kyler Tingey performed an original tune they wrote for the ceremony called “Rain.”

In fact, the only time a non-student appeared on stage was when Danny Robinson, the PHS principal, read the declaration of graduation requirements and during the diploma presentation.

To award the diplomas, Robinson was joined on stage by the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart commander, as is the custom. This gave Col. John P. Stack, father of graduating seniors Dalton and

Elizabeth, the unusual honor of congratulating his children on stage.

Though the other parents were not physically on stage with their children, their presence was felt.

Inside the students’ diploma covers were personal messages written by their parents.

“It’s a personal touch that allows the students to connect with their parents while on stage,” Principal Robinson said.