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Graduation caps successful year at Oasis

By Staff | Jun 8, 2016

It was a school year that Oasis High School will never forget. The city-run charter school was named one of the most rigorous high schools in the nation by the Washington Post, and, on Saturday, it graduated more than 150 seniors, sending them off to the next chapter of their lives.

Graduates, friends and families packed into the high school gymnasium for the ceremony, an event filled with pomp and circumstance, laughter, maybe a little sadness over what they’ll miss, but excitement about what’s to come.

Cape Coral Charter Schools Superintendent Nelson Stevenson told the students to look at their parents to see how proud they are of them.

“Today is the day they’re very proud of. I would say this is a great day to ask for money. It is also a great day to thank them for supporting you because as much as this is your achievement, it is also the achievement of those who care about you,” Stevenson said.

Graduates Ian Milaski, Sara Bryce, Rose Graves, Michael Orbe and Michael O’Donnell spoke of their experiences and words of wisdom to their fellow grads.

In her commencement address, Bryce asked the class to examine who they are and to do what they love because “if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.”

Orbe talked about the heart and the brain, and the decisions his fellow graduates have made that made them happy and/or hurt them somehow and how they, all put together, make youyou.

“Did you make those decisions with your heart or with your mind? And how easy was it for the other end to agree?” Orbe asked. “The person we were four years ago wouldn’t survive a day in our shoes. We’re different today because of each other. All these people changed how you thought and loved and relate.”

No matter how diverse the students, every graduating class seems to have one common denominator that makes it unique from all others. According to principal Shannon Treece, it was how giving the kids were and how intense they were about learning.

“These are students who almost weekly came to me with something to do for someone else. Various clubs and groups of students were focused on what they could to for others,” Treece said. “You don’t become the 62nd most rigorous school in the nation through laziness. These are go-getters.”

Stevenson said the world-class education the Oasis graduates received will set them up for the next stage of their lives.

“We had 150-plus of the finest graduates in Lee County and the state of Florida. I am so impressed and I want to thank everyone. It couldn’t have been a better ceremony,” Stevenson said.

And those graduates and families had much to be proud of afterward. Melinda Kearnes said she had waited for this day for four years.

“I can’t believe it’s finally here. I felt a little of everything. I loved meeting all my friends and making so many memories, like when our soccer team went to regionals for the first time,” said Kearnes, who will attend Florida Southern and major in nursing. “Oasis has been a home away from home.”

“Melinda has grown exponentially. She has matured and blossomed into an amazing young lady.” Melinda’s mother, Laurie, said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better preparation for college.”

Melissa DeHaven watched as her daughter, Haley got her diploma. She said it was bittersweet.

“I’m proud and excited. She has a bright future ahead of her. The bitter part is that it seemed yesterday they were a little baby, and all of a sudden they’re grown up,” DeHaven said. “These kids are growing every day and she’s a beautiful, mature young woman.”

“It’s weird, it’s still not real yet. It’s crazy to think I’m done with 12 years of school. It goes by quick,” said Haley, who will travel and take a break from studies. “I’m going back to school in a year and get a business degree.”

Sara Logan said she would miss Oasis and all the friends she made, but looks forward to life after high school.

“It’s nerve wracking that you’re not going to have your friends around you anymore, but I’m excited to see what the future holds,” said Sara Logan, who will attend the University of South Florida to major in biomedical sciences. “Oasis means everything to me. This is where my home is.”