Renaissance Academy 2013 grads are school's first K-12 class

Renaissance Academy English Language Arts teacher and graduation planner Tracey Behrens O'Brien (center, opposite facing) addresses the Class of 2013 as they prepare for their graduate processional.  Photo by J. Finneran
Renaissance Academy English Language Arts teacher and graduation planner Tracey Behrens O'Brien (center, opposite facing) addresses the Class of 2013 as they prepare for their graduate processional. Photo by J. Finneran

PHOENIXVILLE – Yesterday evening the Renaissance Academy Charter School in Phoenixville, which educates students from Phoenixville and 19 surrounding school districts, held its graduation ceremony for the Class of 2013 at Valley Forge Christian College’s Flower Chapel. While every graduation is a special occassion, this event held additional significance for the school and its students, as this is the first graduating class that included students who had attended the school from kindergarten through graduation.

Following a rousing performance of the National Anthem by Tito Akomoolede, Renaissance Academy Upper School Principal Michelle Boyd welcomed the guests and shared her thoughts about the Class of 2013. She describing them as unique and one-of-a-kind group of students and stated that she would never forget the experiences she shared with them as both a principal and teacher.

“You challenged your teachers as a point of pride,” Boyd said to the 51 students who represent the largest ever graduating class at Renaissance Academy, “and you are the class that I learned the most from... ...Your family at Renaissance Academy will always be here to support you.”

Following opening remarks, the staff or Renaissance Academy presented scholarships and academic awards to the students (the Class of 2013 had collectively earned $4.3 million in academic scholarships). Next to come was the Presentation of the Roses ceremony, where each graduate came forward and took a rose from a vase and then went into the crowd of family and friends to present their rose to a person who held great significance in their lives.


Valedictorian Logan Cuthbert then gave an address that invoked both tears and laughter from the assembly. Cuthbert, who will be attending the St. Andrews University of Scotland in the fall to study international relations, said to her classmates that life is not about being a single person, but rather about being all together. She added that the Class of 2013 was special for many reasons, including school pride, as she noted that among the graduates were members of the Renaissance Academy softball team which was the first to ever win a championship.

“Remember the times together,” she said. “Remember that you are who you are because of these wonderful people around you. I will sincerely miss all of you.”

The greatest surprise of the evening came as teacher and Keynote Speaker Erik Ness began his address to the class before revealing to the graduates their true Keynote Speaker for the evening - former Renaissance Academy Chemistry & Physics teacher Bob Yost, who had taught at the school from 2009-2011 before moving to Pittsburgh. Yost emerged from a hiding place in a balcony overseeing the chapel to a roar of approval from the delighted graduates, and then joined Ness at the lectern as the duo shared fond memories of the years spent with the students of the Class of 2013 in a jovial address that featured props, well-received jokes, and a bit of parting wisdom.

“… always remember that the value of life is measured in how you influence others,” Yost said.

The presentation of diplomas and alumni pinning came next, with loud cheers often erupting from the assembly as the individual students were called up by name. Once the students had returned to their seats the conferring of the diplomas was announced by Renaissance Academy Board of Directors President Charles Crabb, and then the students launched their caps into the air.

As the ceremony reached completion, Renaissance Academy Chief Executive Officer Gina Guarino Buli offered the closing remarks wherein she encouraged the Class of 2013 to strike forward in life with the same positive attitude that they displayed as students.

“Continue to make waves,” she said. “We will always be here for you, good luck.”

Congratulations to the Renaissance Academy Charter School Class of 2013:

Oluwatodimu Akinbola Akomolede (Norristown), Timothy Alexy (Norristown), Sean Algeo (Royersford), Alexander Arey (Schwenksville), Nicholas Ayres (Norristown), Ashley Baker-Pufko (Spring City), Kelsey Berry (Schwenkesville), Nyjah Bond (Norristown), Elijah Boone (Norristown), Cassandra Brill (Spring City), Robin Brown (Norristown), Jacob Bruccoliere (King of Prussia), Dorothea Cameron (Norristown), Madeline Campbell (Royersford), Christina Clouser (West Chester), Kevin Costello (Jeffersonville), Samantha Cross (Pottstown), Logan Cuthbert (Phoenixville), Emily D’Vertola (Royersford), Alexis Dudley (Chester Springs), Eric Duran (Phoenixville), Tyesha Flagg (Phoenixville), Dylan Frias (Norristown), Christopher Gibson (Norristown), Lee Ann Hampton (Norristown), Shannon Harper (Collegeville), Marshauna Hinton (Norristown), Michaela Jackson (East Norriton), Aiking Jessie (Norristown), Alexa Johnson (Phoenixville), Morgan Kerper (Jeffersonville), Sonia Rose Lyle (Phoenixville), Joshua Malone (Jeffersonville), Sarah Messina (Collegeville), Doshan Moore (Pottstown), Tierra O’Donnell (Norristown), Martyn Payne (Norristown), Timothy Potts (Phoenixville), Charles Prisco (Norristown), Jenna Rhoads (Norristown), Mathew Richman (Exton), Angela Robin (Downingtown), Zena Rouse (Phoenixville), Tyra Thompson (Norristown), Jena Verish (Phoenixville), Jordan Weinberg (Audubon), Taylor Weston (Norristown), Keenan Whitt (Norristown), Porsha Wilson (Norristown), Anya Yarbough (Norristown) and Katrina Zougari (Coatesville).

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