(June 5, 2015) In front of a room packed with family, friends and loved ones, 327 seniors graduated from Stephen Decatur High School last Wednesday, May 27, at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street.
Class President Tripp Ortega delivered a farewell address to students during the ceremony, encouraging his fellow classmates to dream big, be themselves, never give up and do everything to their full potential.
After thanking facility, friends and family, he proclaimed, “The class of 2015 is the best class that went through Stephen Decatur.”
The Worcester County Board of Education uses a three-tiered senior recognition program where each student receives a cumulative weighted GPA, which is calculated at the end of the third marking period in English, math, social studies, science, world languages and Advanced Placement courses. Class rank with valedictorian and salutatorian honors was ended several years ago.
Students who earned a 5.05 GPA or higher received Summa Cum Laude honors, those receiving a 4.9-5.04 GPA earned Magna Cum Laude accolades and those earning a 4.8-4.89 GPA received Cum Laude distinction. All honorees stood for recognition during the commencement ceremony.
Of the graduates, 163 (50 percent) will attend four-year colleges or universities and 107 (33 percent) will attend two-year schools. Two students (less than 1 percent) will study at trade and technical schools, 40 (12 percent) will go into the workforce and 15 (5 percent) are heading to the military.
The top choice college for Decatur graduates was Wor-Wic, with 94 enrolling this year and another 33 will stay close to study at Salisbury University.
Other popular choices include Towson University, University of Maryland College Park and University of Maryland Eastern Shore who will each welcome 10 or more Decatur graduates in the fall.
The class of 2015 received more than $9.3 million in scholarships and grants with $3.7 million in tuition aid.
“Commencement is not an ending, it’s a beginning,” said Dr. Jerry Wilson, superintendent of Worcester County schools. “A whole new, exciting phase is about to begin… set the bar high…”
He reminded the graduates of Dr. Steve Maraboli’s quote, “To embark on the journey toward your goals and dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment.”
Class of 2015 graduates were given the opportunity to choose their own commencement speaker and they decided on Louis Taylor, chief operating officer for Worcester County Public Schools, a 1978 graduate and principal of Stephen Decatur High School for 17 years.
He told the graduates they will find out who they are and what they want to be during challenging periods.
“Understand life is not what you are given, but what you aim to achieve when you refuse to give up,” Taylor said. “Obstacles and loss will act as motivation. Learn from failures and always keep persevering.”
Stephen Decatur Principal Thomas Zimmer may have said it best, “They have left our mark on us… it’s time for them to leave their mark on the world.”