HYANNIS — The Sturgis Charter Public School East Campus on Main Street isn’t a traditional high school, as student speaker Grace Churchill reminded her fellow graduates Saturday morning.
The school that promotes the International Baccalaureate program for all is located in an old furniture store whose roof leaks when it rains, she said.
The school doesn’t have a cafeteria or gymnasium, Churchill said during the commencement ceremony under a tent at Aselton Park.
What it does have are dedicated teachers who take students to Town Hall and environmental forums and encourage them to test their theories and expand their knowledge, she said.
Her 95 fellow graduates are heading off to study applied mathematics, biology and nursing, taking gap years and joining a professional ballet company, Churchill said.
“I’ll see you when we’re old and wrinkly at our reunion,” she said.
Sturgis gave students the opportunity to reinvent themselves, “All because we were lucky enough to have our names drawn from a lottery,” said Elaine Fryer, the second student speaker of the morning.
The Class of 2019 was a vocal class, Fryer said.
“We always had something to share. We sang. We celebrated. We made noise,” Fryer said. “We educated ourselves. We marched to raise awareness and we volunteered.”
Fryer thanked the teachers, administrators, school counselors and secretaries who made Sturgis a special place for students.
Peter Sampou, science teacher, one of two faculty speakers, told the graduates, “You might rank as my favorite class ever.”
Sampou urged students to take action to save the environment for their generation and the next.
“What kind of world do you want to live in when you get to be as old as I am?” Sampou, who graduated from high school 45 years ago, asked the graduates.
“Humanity is facing a critical moment,” said Sampou, who said he took part in the first Earth Day 49 years ago.
The clock is ticking on the opportunity to lower greenhouse gases, and the 21st century is facing a species extinction crisis, Sampou said.
“This is there. This is now,” Sampou said.
Despite what he called “impending calamity,” Sampou said he is optimistic.
“There really are reasons for hope,” largely due to a green movement among youth, he said.
“I see an awakening,” Sampou said.
“Youth are speaking truth to power,” he said. “I see rebellion in your generation, and I am expecting action. Please, please, please, please. Make your voices heard. You will rise to this challenge.”
The second faculty speaker, history teacher Chris Abel, told students they will be forged by the “wondrous unpredictability of life.”
Noting the view of Hyannis Harbor, he said it is water that shapes the vessel, not the other way around.
“The you you are today is not necessarily the you you will become,” Abel said, adding “I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the current version of you.”