As "Pomp and Circumstance" resounded throughout the building, 44 Lodi Academy seniors clad in their class colors of red, black and white, walked one by one into the Lodi Academy Auditorium on Sunday morning.
By entering one at a time, and with a good 30 or 40 feet separating each student, parents, family and friends had plenty of time to savor their special graduate's moment. The single-file processional allowed witnesses to raise arms high, whoop, clap and otherwise very boisterously let each graduate know that they were appreciated.
The students filed onto the stage and stood for a few moments, facing the audience at the behest of outgoing Principal Samir Berbawy.
"I'd like you to just stand there for a moment and let the audience take a good look at you. Ladies and gentleman, this is the Lodi Academy graduating class of 2004," he said.
Following an opening prayer by Lodi Academy Board Chairperson Karey Harty and a solo by graduating senior Kristine Gemora, who sang Brian McKnight's "Win," the graduating class was addressed by their choice for commencement speaker teacher Andrew Jamieson.
Jamieson urged the graduates to learn and understand what true success is based upon what the bible says. He said that while man measures success by money, PhD's, and how high up the job ladder you climb, he exhorted the students to care more about what God sees as success.
"Everything will fade," Jamieson said. "But if you are looking for an investment that lasts, the only investment for true success is in heaven and in Jesus. My challenge to you is to put your dreams and aspirations in Christ."
Jamieson's commencement address was serious in nature and the students honored him with their attention, but the tone of the event lightened substantially. After a brief awards ceremony with students receiving scholarship moneys and awards for college, the diplomas were handed to each student by Principal Berbawy.
With a handshake, a hug, or both, Berbawy handed out diplomas, followed by Karey Harty making it even more official by turning the student's tassel from the left side of the cap to the right.
The Lodi Academy graduating class of 2004 erupts into celebration after the announcement is made that they are officially graduates Sunday. (J. Paul Bruton/News-Sentinel)
As soon as Berbawy said the words, "I present you the class of 2004," the students jumped up and the stage erupted into a miniature version of Times Square on New Year's Day. Cans of silly string however, substituted for confetti, as the celebrating graduates filled the air and each others faces with the stringy goo.
The graduates then exited the stage having to walk a gauntlet presented by other Lodi Academy students and the class of 2005, only to be again buried in massive webs of silly string.