By Lynn Schofer

The Seaford High class of 2023 commencement was held on Friday evening in Bob Dowd Stadium. The 175 graduates include 43 President’s Award for Educational Excellence recipients, 13 National Honor Society members, 14 with Multi-Literacy Awards, two Academic Challenge recognitions, and two Honor Keys. The Council of Elders recognized eight class members for their participation in the program that links community members from Saint Luke’s to work with students on college and scholarship applications. The class also will have 14 hometown heroes who are entering the armed forces.   

Seaford High Principal Dr. Susan Harrison welcomed the graduates, family and friends to the commencement. School Board President David Tull delivered a message to the graduates, “On behalf of the Seaford Board of Education a welcome to everyone attending this ceremony.  Congratulations is a word you will hear many times over the next several weeks. When someone says that to you, they are saying good work, good job, best wishes, it should make you feel good, happy, proud.” Tull said, “Continuing on with your life, keep that feeling coming no matter what path you take and do whatever it takes to make someone say congratulations and job well done.” 

The Seaford graduates celebrate in the traditional throwing of the caps to conclude the commencement program of the Class of 2023. Photo by Lynn Schofer

School Board members Kimberly Hopkins, Dara Savage, Jeffrey Benson, Jr., Marcus Wright, and Armore Rice (school board member elect) were also in attendance along with local dignitaries Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent, Seaford Mayor David Genshaw, Vice Mayor Dan Henderson, Seaford Police Chief Marshall Craft, and town of Blades Mayor Rob Atkinson.

 Seaford School District Superintendent Dr. Corey Miklus spoke to the graduates, “Class of 2023 this is your day and one of the best days of the year for me, the day I get to congratulate you as graduates.” 

Miklus spoke of the challenges. “There was no play book on how to navigate a global pandemic and no study guide on how to readjust afterwards. Here you are and you not only persevered but you overcame. You will confront more challenges in life and we have challenges to face together. It is now your responsibility to make a difference in yourselves and your community.” 

The class listened to the advice, “Your time at Seaford High School has given you the skills to be successful citizens worldwide. You go forward with the strength gained in the pandemic; you learned self -motivation, accountability, and perseverance. Don’t fear change and focus on the goal and not the obstacles. Act on what you can control, don’t worry about what you can’t, make a plan, and confidently take the first step, remain flexible but keep forging ahead.” 

In closing Miklus shared, “Remember your life will not be defined by obstacles or opportunities it will be determined by how you choose to face them.”

Seaford Class Salutatorian Salma Oropeza-Alcantara, a member of the Upper Bound Program and the Green Beret Project with a weighted GPA of 104.19 who will attend Delaware Technical College to study advertising said, “Public speaking is not my forte however I’ll give it all for this special occasion. Family has played a huge part in who I am today. Thank you teachers their perseverance is remarkable; and the class of 2023 and the obstacles we encountered to get here today.” 

Salma shared with her classmates, “These past years have taught us the importance of being prepared for nearly anything, our schools have gone through many adjustments in life so in the future we are comfortable with the thought of change. To the future athletes, artists, business owners, or those going straight into the military to serve I wish you all the best. Congratulations, we did it!”

Valedictorian Natalie Carter has been in the Academic Challenge Program for five years, has a weighted GPA of 104.23, and served as Vice President of Future Farmers of America, President of the Key Club, and Vice President of Student Government. She is a member of the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy, National Honor Society, and  Business Professionals of America. Natalie will attend Liberty University and major in Psychology. 

In her address to her classmates she said, “I want you all to know how appreciative I am to be given this opportunity to speak with you all today. Special thanks to my mother who has sacrificed so much as a single parent since my father passed away.” 

She told the crowd she is successful because of her mother, God by her side and the many teachers and staff members. She thanked teachers for making her the best possible version of herself, “with God all things are possible even when there does not seem to be a way.” 

Natalie said to her classmates, “No one would have ever imagined that our high school journey would be interrupted by a pandemic but nevertheless we persevered and overcame together. I am so grateful for the bonds we have forged and how we have come together as a class. Let us not forget one of the most important lessons taught to us by Mr. Cohee, don’t be a slacker. We have all grown and are not the same people we were when we started high school, hopefully we can realize that these are the good ole days and every road will always lead us home. Wherever life takes you follow your own path and don’t let the words or actions of others dictate or determine who you are. Let us go into the world and show all that we have to offer.” Natalie exploded confetti into the air and shouted “we did it!” 

Dr. Harrison addressed the class, “You all look so good, you made it, you are here, you are the class of 2023. We are here to celebrate you and your achievement, look around, can you see all the love, joy and pride that is being given to you today. I am really proud of all of you and thankful to be a small part of your high school journey. I have so much fun watching you do your thing from playing sports to performing on stage to being plain silly. I have valued our time together, go do all the things you can and believe in yourself, ask for help and then accept. When someone else asks you for help, if you can, give it. If you start to question yourself or your place you can always come home.” 

Dr. Harrison presented the class of 2023 diplomas, announced by associate principals Virginia Hastings and Dr. Shay-Lynn Crowson. The tassels were turned and the caps thrown into the air to celebrate.