Commencement Caps (and Gowns) Landmark Year at Scavo

A well-deserved hug for one of the newest alumni of Scavo High School.

A well-deserved hug for one of the newest alumni of Scavo High School.

This has been quite a year at Scavo High School, one that saw the school complete an ambitious transition from “alternative” to “full-service.” The dust had barely settled from last year’s physical move into new quarters at Central Campus that feature an on-site daycare facility and food pantry when Scavo forged ahead with even more comprehensive facilities including a medical and dental clinic. The school officially adopted the Phoenix as its mascot, the one that is perhaps the most perfectly suited to the backstories of its student body of any of the DMPS high schools. Scavo isn’t anybody’s “home” school by virtue of geographic boundaries. It’s one that’s deliberately chosen because, for an assortment of reasons, the home school didn’t fit.

What better culmination to a year of such significant growth and expansion could there be than to graduate one of the largest classes in the history of a school that began in 1968 with only seven students?

Friday morning 128 personal stories came to happy high school endings during a ceremony at Hoyt Sherman Place that got the district’s holiday weekend of commencement off to a rousing start. A historic venue with a capacity of about 1,200 was nearly full, partly because 10 rows front and center on the main floor had to be reserved for the guests of honor.

Those personal stories are “meaningful and powerful” their authors were told by guest speaker Eddye Vanderkwaak from Polk County Juvenile Court, who shared her own background as a misfit foster child. “Share your stories,” she advised, “whenever you can. It’s important for others to hear them.”

When class speaker Darby Payne came to the podium she had to adjust the microphone to make sure she was heard. “I feel like I’m too short for this,” she began. But no, she was not. “My experience at my home high school wasn’t the best,” she went on to say. “I felt lost in the crowd…but at Scavo they made me feel important. People wanted me to succeed.”

Outside it was raining. No one minded. How else would flowers bloom?

After she spoke Darby took her place with her classmates. Each in their turn heard their name announced and cheered. Each of them got a moment, a few handshakes, a yellow rose, a pat on the back and a hard-won diploma. And before anyone in the Class of ‘16 at any of the five home high schools in the district did, each of them got to flip their tassels from the not-yet-side to the I-did-it! side.

When principal Rich Blonigan told the brand new grads to stand for official presentation to the crowd as the Scavo Full-Service Community High School Class of 2016, they rose as one Phoenix. It was a jubilant cap (and gown) on a milestone year at a remarkable school.

Photos from the 2016 Graduation Ceremonies

Published on