Southampton Academy graduates class of 2022

Published 8:40 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2022

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By Mollie Strozier

Media and Relations

Southampton Academy held its Commencement Ceremony on Thursday May 26, 2022 in the Camp-Ballard Gymnasium. Thirty-one students walked across the stage as members of the Class of 2022. Salutatorian Mary Conner welcomed parents, grandparents, teachers, staff, board members, and guests. Retired Southampton Academy English Teacher, Mrs. Lark Lucente, was the keynote speaker of the evening. Mrs. Lucente taught the senior class three years in a row during their freshmen, sophomore and junior years before her retirement. Senior Class President Rylee Webb welcomed Mrs. Lucente to the stage, stating, “We are extremely thankful for the impact she has made on us and all the life lessons she has taught us. We feel as if she was here for such a huge part of our high school careers and we want to share this special moment with her.” Lucente gave a heartfelt speech reminiscing about her graduation experiences and charging the graduates to continue on their journeys of service and gratitude.

Co-Valedictorians Asthyn Dunn and Erika Shaffer delivered their farewell addresses to the class. Dunn shared some of her favorite memories with the class, including hatching baby chicks in Agri-Science class, building prom during their junior year, celebrating Pi Day, and winning the Powder Puff games two consecutive years. She challenged her classmates to set high standards and dream big, while cautioning everyone to be patient with the journey. Dunn shared, “Success will not come at the same rate for every one of us. You will each reach your goal when the time is right, and when you are ready.”

Erika Shaffer highlighted the many accomplishments of the class, sharing that Southampton Academy’s Class of 2022 will represent the school at nineteen different colleges and seven different states. Additionally, two graduates will go on to represent our country in the United States Navy and the Army National Guard. Shaffer continued her speech by explaining the special bond that her class has with one another and shared more special memories between graduates and teachers.

Shaffer concluded her speech with an inspirational message to her class, stating, “This class has a bright future and I cannot wait to see what incredible things [we] are bound to accomplish. As we leave here today, remember to stay true to yourself, pave your own path, and make the most out of any opportunity.”

Following the speeches, multiple scholarship awards were presented. Prior to graduation, students in the Class of 2022 had been awarded in excess of $2.7 million to support their journey in higher education. Additional scholarship awards were also given during the ceremony. Representatives from the Avery Drew Swenson Scholarship presented two scholarships to Caroline Slate and Ashtyn Dunn. Dunn also received the Emporia Rotary Club Scholarship and Slate also received the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Scholarship. Mrs. Lauren Harper, Senior Vice President of Farmer’s Bank, presented Erika Shaffer with the 2022 Farmer’s Bank Scholarship. Leslie Smith of Southampton Academy’s PTO presented Bailey Drake and Erika Shaffer with the 2022 PTO Award. Lastly, Mr. Trey Adams, Head of School, presented the highly distinguished G.E. Pillow Citizenship Award. The award is presented to a member of the senior class who has quietly and in his/her own way of life, set an example for the entire school community. This year’s recipient was Bailey Drake.

Prior to the graduates receiving their diplomas, Camp Community College Representative, Dr. Tara Atkins-Brady, presented the Governor’s Medallion to two of the graduates for their completion of studies at Camp Community College. Emma Belmonte was presented her certificate of General Education with Magna Cum Laude recognition, and Bailey Drake was presented her Associate of Arts and Sciences and Certificate of General Education with Summa Cum Laude recognition.

The ceremony concluded with Southampton Academy Alumni Association representative Mrs. Jeannette Everett. Everett formally inducted the graduates of the Class of 2022 into the Alumni Association. Each graduate selected a former alumni of the school to meet them at the front of the stage with a Southampton Academy pin, symbolizing their graduation and induction into the Alumni Association.

The graduates made sure the evening ended on a memorable note. At the conclusion of the benediction, each graduate released confetti from a confetti popper, officially beginning the celebration of their successes.

To the Class of 2022, thank you for the legacy and impact you have left at Southampton Academy. We are so proud of each and every one of you. We wish you all their very best on your journeys in the future.