Graduation caps unexpected senior journey for Sussex Tech

Graduates at Sussex Tech High School throw their caps in the air over the weekend. (Submitted photos)

GEORGETOWN – Sussex Tech’s class of 2020 finalized a unique senior year in its high school journey punctuated by the COVID-19 pandemic as graduates in separate commencements held Friday and Saturday.

More than 280 students received diplomas, marking the completion of four years of career-technical education and academic successes.

“Ravens soar high above no matter what their path is,” said Sussex Tech principal Dr. John Demby. “Whether you’re headed into military service, going into the work force, pursuing higher education, or diving into apprenticeship programs, Sussex Tech is proud of all of you. This year has not been what any of us expected, but you have triumphed and persevered.”

Each Sussex Tech student chooses one of 16 career-technical areas in which to concentrate their studies, ranging from collision repair and dental services to carpentry and digital publishing. The most popular areas among the class of 2020 were health professions, criminal justice, automotive technology, dental services, and early care and education.

Diplomas sit waiting for eager Sussex Tech grads.

Sussex Tech graduates earn both high school diplomas and technical certificates in their field of study.

This year’s valedictorian, Bethany Pasmore of Bethany Beach, is an early care and education student who will be attending the University of Delaware to study elementary and special education.

“All of us deserve to be proud of what we have achieved,” Bethany told her classmates, recalling the day they walked out of school on March 13 hoping for a few days off. “We never imagined it would lead to this. Suddenly, high school as we knew it was over … But I believe that through these changes we have grown stronger. Through this event, we have realized the importance of the people around us.”

Salutatorian Jaasiel Nunez of Georgetown, a criminal justice and legal support services student, will be attending Ohio State University to study athletic training.

“We are the future voices of America,” Jassiel said. “Your future is bright – and you’re the reason why we can still hope and fight for a better world of equality and justice. As we commemorate the graduation of our class, remember that the brightest and most gifted people of our generation reside in this slower, lower, chicken-loving, beach-crazy, corn-filled county of Delaware.”

The senior class president is Nayelis Gonzalez Sanchez of Seaford spoke about the memories the class made over the last four years despite the challenges of recent months.

“Although we are closing this chapter of our book, our stories are just beginning,” said Neyelis, a health professions student who will be attending Salisbury University on a pre-med track. “We may all be heading in different directions, but our memories, moments, and lessons will stick with us. … We will always bleed black and silver.”

Commencement speaker Dontez Collins, the district’s 2020 Teacher of the Year and a Sussex Tech alumnus, delivered a challenge to graduates feeling emotional about missing part of their senior year experience.

“Use those emotions as fuel,” he said. “Fuel for the fire that burns in your soul to achieve greatness as you define that word from your own perspective. … Liberate each other in packs as black birds who travel in silhouettes in broad daylight.”

All recorded their speeches, which will be posted online in the near future.