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Last supper for JSC winter grads

Cecilia+North
Cecilia North

Cecilia North

Nellie Tamboe

Nellie Tamboe

Cecilia North

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The end of this semester also marks the end of a college career for some Johnson State College students. On Dec. 20, the school will be hosting its annual commencement dinner for the August and December graduates. While many of them will also walk in May, the small ceremony held in Stearns is nevertheless an important an event for students, parents and faculty.

“It’s been going on for quite a while. It was designed as a more intimate thing, and some of the students really like it,” said Cecilia North, executive assistant to the president.

The event begins with a dinner and is followed by the distribution of up to three awards. The Henry Sheldon Memorial Cup, which goes to the graduate with the highest GPA who also has at least 90 credits; the Outstanding Community Service Award, and the Outstanding Student Athlete Award.

“It depends whether the people awarding them think that there’s a student in that class that has earned it,” said North. “Now last year we did have all three.” This year only the Henry Sheldon Memorial Cup and the Outstanding Student Athlete Award will be presented.

During the process of registering for the commencement, North asked the students to write a short bio about themselves which will be read by Dean of Students Jonathan Davis as students are called up alphabetically to shake hands with Elaine Collins and receive their roses. “We don’t hand out diplomas, so they’re given a rose,” North said.

The low-key event is held dear by many across the JSC community. “I think it’s a lovely way to just close out your career at the college,” said Tyrone Shaw, associate professor of writing and literature. “It’s lovely for the students, there’s much more of a personal recognition there. The families really enjoy it, and those of us, faculty and staff, who are able to attend . . . it’s a really gratifying experience.”

Jacob Greenia, a December graduate, feels that the commencement ceremony is a validation of all the hard work he’s done at Johnson. “This has been kind of a really rough year and a lot of questions being thrown my way of like, ‘Can I graduate on time?’” he said. “To get the confirmation and to be able to attend a dinner like that, and then walk in May, is just really awesome. It’s just nice for my family to be there and my girlfriend to be there to share that moment with me.”

Unfortunately, this year’s winter graduation dinner will be the last—at least as a Johnson State College event. “We won’t be doing this event in this format after we become NVU, and that’s because they want to have a similar event across the two schools,” said North.

As of now, Lyndon’s winter commencement is more similar to a regular graduation ceremony. They wear caps and gowns, walk across a stage, and receive mock diplomas. “Once we get into the new year, I’m not sure who’s going to work on that, but the goal will be to have the same type of event in both campuses since we’re going to be one university,” North said.

While there still will be a winter commencement, the possible end of fact that the format will probably be changing has saddened some. “I just think it’s a lovely ceremony, and I’m going to be sorry if this is the last one,” said Shaw.

Greenia hopes that the new configuration of the commencement will honor students just as much as the old one has. “Future NVU students need to be recognized at both colleges, even if they can’t do it in one giant ceremony,” he said. “The administration needs to get together and figure that out.”

At least 21 students, many along with their families, have indicated they will attend.

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Last supper for JSC winter grads