NSA grads start a new adventure

Published 6:12 pm Friday, May 28, 2021

On a sunny Friday morning, the class of 2021 at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy walked across the stage to celebrate 13 years of hard work.

High school graduation is a day that students look forward to for years. Luckily for the class of 2021, the day came and was as normal as 2021 would allow.

A total of 60 graduates cheered, laughed and reminisced on how they made it to this celebratory day as well as their resilience during the past two school years.

“I honestly didn’t think I would be able to speak to you today,” said Katherine Luzzatto, student council president. “But here we are in person, and I get to welcome you to the graduation of the class of 2021.”

Luzzatto looked back on the 13 years she has spent with her class at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy as they remembered memories and celebrated accomplishments.

“Between Fifty Nifty and our last day water balloon fight, with state titles won in softball and lacrosse, the robotics team heading to the world championships; accolades in band, chorus and visual arts; eight students off to play sports in college, scholarships and exceptional college admissions, this class has not failed to leave its mark at NSA,” Luzzatto said.

Salutatorian Frances Hope also noted the bond the class has as they have given the teachers and staff at the school much grief. Her speech efficiently recounted what made this class so unique.

“We will forever be known as the class of 2021, who made more teachers quit than any others,” Hope said to the laughter of her peers. “But more importantly, the class that overcame the most struggles to get where we are all with a smile on our faces. Congratulations everyone, we survived.”

Valedictorian Arya Barot took time to thank those who made a difference behind the scene in each graduate’s life to help them get to where they are as they take this leap into adulthood.

“To all of you in the audience, the Michelangelos who have lovingly made of us a sculpture from a slab of marble,” he said. “We are forever indebted to you as we continue to be chiseled into the Davids we are destined to become. We vow to live our lives in deep gratitude honoring your love, cherishing your blessings. May God continue to bless each of us on the journey forward.”

The commencement speaker was Charles “Chuck” Culpepper, a sports writer for The Washington Post and a 1980 NSA graduate. His job has taken him all over the world with many great experiences. He used these experiences to give the class of 2021 60 bits of advice for the graduating class of 60.

The advice included: attend all classes and parties in college; watch the sunset in Africa; mutter the word “adventure” when in a new situation; when in Washington, D.C., visit at least one veterans’ memorial; try new things that may make you uncomfortable; learn how to apologize; what others say about you isn’t your business; ride your bike around Vancouver; visit large sporting events; meet new people and learn from them; ride a camel if given a chance; spend little time as possible on Twitter; and screw-ups can be a beginning.

“Fear is normal, and this is bit of advice number 60 — fear is normal and fear is everywhere, but as you go along in life, try to shed fear,” Culpepper said. “I wish you so much adventure and vividness and light.”

The class of 2021 left the field to a rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Just like the song, the Saints went marching into a new phase of life, ready to face their next adventure.