NSA graduates 85

Published 12:22 am Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s newest graduates fling their mortarboards into the air following the school’s 2012 commencement ceremony on Saturday. Head of School Colley Bell III called it “a physical display of releasing the bonds of high school.”

With the air crisp and cool and the ground still soggy from the torrential rains of the previous evening, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy kicked off the local high school graduation season by awarding 85 diplomas Saturday morning.

“Events like this are so fleeting, but so important to the human condition,” Head of School Colley W. Bell III told the graduates and their family and friends gathered on the school’s wet front lawn.

Bell spoke at the conclusion of the graduation ceremony, which featured speeches by the school’s valedictorian and salutatorian — Meredith Nicole Deluca and Zachary Nelson Peak, respectively — and an address by John T. Casteen III, president emeritus of the University of Virginia.


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“We do good by doing well the things we do,” Casteen said, urging members of the graduating class to improve themselves by finding a way to work for the betterment of others.

Having been offered more than $3 million in scholarships and having accepted nearly $1 million worth of those offers, all 84 of the school’s graduating seniors plan to attend college in the fall.

Recognizing that fact, Casteen said, “For most of you, your work for the next several years will be to learn.”

He gave them a list of things they should be sure to learn.

“Set yourself to learn when to make demands and when to practice patience,” he said. “Learn what you don’t know…. Learn to love the world around you…. And learn to enjoy the company of your own mind.”

“We need you to work, to love the work you do, to attach to your families and, in the end, to love yourselves.”

Peak, the salutatorian, reminded his classmates that their lives are their own responsibilities.

“We have barely begun to write our stories,” he said.

And Deluca, the valedictorian, drew an extended analogy between a box of crayons and the various important life lessons graduates had learned while at NSA.

“Be bold,” she said. “Create new meaning behind the colors of the crayons.”

As Bell handed each graduate his or her diploma, there were cheers, applause and various noisemakers from family and friends in the audience.

Ian Michael Burgett, who was killed earlier this year in a car accident, received a standing ovation when his name was called, and his older brother came to the podium to accept the diploma on behalf of his family. Burgett would have attended James Madison University in the fall.