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Five seniors receive diplomas early at a special graduation ceremony

By Sarah Cutler

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Seniors Sarah Houston, Caroline Sherrard and Jane Kessner walked across the courtyard during the special graduation ceremony. Photo by Alexander Burnett.

**Also by Alexander Burnett**

For most high school students, four years of hard work and stress lead up to one moment: graduation.

But five seniors on the debate won’t join the rest of their class for the ceremony. Instead, they received diplomas at a special graduation June 7, because the National Forensic League speech and debate tournament occurs during the main graduation June 14.

Seniors Perry Green, Sarah Houston, Jane Kessner, Caroline Sherrard and Rachel Umans received their diplomas. All five addressed the small crowd of friends and family, followed by a speech from speech and debate coach Anjan Choudhury.

“It’s that initial conviction you have that will create that ripple out in the world,” Choudhury said. “It’s conviction that makes people listen, that makes change happen. This group of graduating seniors will effect change in the world.”

Debate sponsor Colin O’Brien suggested the separate graduation to principal Alan Goodwin after some parents of debate students were trying to figure out how these seniors could compete and graduate as scheduled.

O’Brien and Goodwin decided to host a smaller event in the courtyard because without the special ceremony, these debaters would’ve had to choose between attending either the NFL tournament or graduation.

“The NFL National Championships is the biggest of all speech and debate tournaments, and is, by most accounts, the national championship in the activity,” Choudhury said.

For senior Perry Green, the decision would’ve been easy.

“I wanted to go to the tournament,” Green said. “It would be one day at the graduation, and you’re just sort of standing there while your name is called. That versus my last debate tournament ever.”

Senior Emily Massey found the opposite decision to be an easy one.

“I never really considered going to that tournament,” she said.

Choudhury appreciates O’Brien’s and Goodwin’s help in organizing the event.

“They both recognized how special this tournament is, and how special graduation is,” Choudhury said. “They made an effort to do the best by these seniors who had a difficult choice.”

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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School
Five seniors receive diplomas early at a special graduation ceremony