Seniors excited for graduation


In advance of graduation, which will be held today at Hayes High School, seniors took a moment to speak with The Gazette about what they’ll miss most about being students in the Delaware City School District.

Senior Sydney Dunmire said that on March 13, the last day students attended Hayes before their studies were moved to remote learning, she couldn’t believe the announcement was real.

“I was initially in disbelief,” Dunmire said. “I had so many people and teachers I wanted to say goodbye to. I wanted to take in the last three months of my high school career, but it was abruptly ended without any final goodbyes. I was sad. I wanted to have the same experience so many other classes had before us. I wanted to have prom, have a normal graduation, and enjoy my bittersweet last day of school.”

In the last three months, Dunmire says she’s kept up with some of her classmates and reached out with cards to tell her friends how much she misses them.

She added the close-knit school community is something she won’t forget.

“I will miss the community we had at school through the house system,” Dunmire said. “I enjoyed participating in House Games a lot, and I am sad that I won’t be able to have my final year participating.”

Dunmire, who said she’s looking forward to graduating today, is thankful Principal Ric Stranges and other administrators organized the drive-through graduation ceremony.

“It may not be what we imagined it would be, but our administration has been doing wonders to make it as memorable as possible,” Dunmire said. “…They wanted it to be special. What they are doing is truly unique. Being able to decorate your cars and celebrate with your family is something no other class will be able to do. The class of 2020 is one of a kind.”

Dunmire said she’ll be attending The Ohio State University this fall to major in public policy.

Fellow senior Gianni Cordi said Thursday that he thought school would only be on a break and did expect to return after Gov. Mike DeWine’s initial three-week order.

“I was confident it would only be the three weeks and we would be back,” Cordi said. “When I got to school on what I didn’t know would be my final day of high school, (teacher Thomas Hering) suggested that I treat this day as truly my last day. He’s a very realistic person, and he told me straight up this was probably it. So I did exactly that.”

Cordi said he is thankful he spent the rest of that day with that mindse,t because he got to say a proper goodbye to Hering.

“After I exited the building, I thanked Mr. Hering for being the greatest teacher I’ve ever had and a major inspiration to me, and I’ll admit it, I started to tear up and we hugged it out,” Cordi said.

Cordi added he has kept up with his friends and classmates on social media, and he and a few of his friends have met up in parking lots to listen to music together while practicing social distancing.

“It’s sad knowing I’m gonna never see many of these people again considering I’ve grown up with almost all of them, and even if we didn’t talk, I still liked seeing the faces,” Cordi said. “For a lot of people, I’m sure I will drive by their house graduation day congratulating them.”

Cordi agreed with Dunmire, adding he’ll miss the community at the school most of all.

“I’ve always been very impressed with how much of a family my schools have felt like,” he said. “I’m going to miss all the good people I went to school with, and I’m especially going to miss the incredible staff. I mean the staff really made the schools what they were. From Schultz, to Willis, to Dempsey and Hayes, all the staff made me feel happy to be there.”

Cordi said he is thankful for all of his teachers throughout his time at Delaware City Schools.

“So many of my favorite memories are of the bonds I’ve had with teachers,” he said. “I’ll miss them a lot, and I know it must be hard on them to not be able to have a proper goodbye to all the students they’ve known for years.”

He added that he’s excited to see Stranges, “the greatest principal of all time,” at graduation, and he’s going to try and make the most of the summer before he attends Ohio University to study film production this fall.

Jenna Justice said the announcement that schools wouldn’t be reopening made her “very sad” because she’d be missing so many senior events, but she’s made the best of it over the last few months.

“I think this situation has really increased the importance of communication,” Justice said. “So, I’ve been talking to my friends a lot more between texting, Facetime, and writing letters is such a fun way to stay in touch and let all our feelings out. Trying not to say goodbye yet, but hoping that our class can stay connected on social media while being distanced.”

Justice added there’s a variety of things she’ll miss about the school district.

“I will definitely miss the Delaware City Schools community the most,” she said. “The teachers and students that made my years amazing. I have made the best friends of my life and had the best teachers that have made such a huge impact on my life, and I hope to stay in touch with them for a long time after I’m gone.”

Justice said she is “really looking forward” to graduation today and is thankful the administration organized the event.

“Although it’s much different than what I expected and wanted, it’s a great compromise and a way to still bring our class together and celebrate our achievements on time,” she said.

Justice said she’ll be attending Eastern Michigan University to major in biology on the pre-med track.

“I’m super excited for this next chapter and hope to be on campus soon,” Justice said Thursday.

Nicole Klabus said the announcement that school wouldn’t be returning to normal left her “heartbroken.”

“This was the time of year we had all been waiting for as seniors, and we were supposed to do so many fun things,” Klabus said. “I also realized how much I was going to miss my teachers and all my friends that I’ve spent the past 13 years of my life with. I have been writing a lot of notes to my classmates and friends, and delivering them to their mailboxes since we can’t see each other.”

Klabus said she is most thankful for district staff.

“I am going to miss how supportive and encouraging all of the teachers are in Delaware City Schools,” she said. “Each one that I have had has made a unique impact on my life that I will always be thankful for.”

Klabus said she’s looking forward to graduation and will be attending Ohio Wesleyan University this fall to study zoology and pre-veterinary medicine. She will also be playing on the women’s lacrosse team.

“I am looking forward to graduation, because I will get to see my teachers and still share a special moment with the entire class of 2020 even if we are all in our own cars,” Klabus said. “It’s definitely not the graduation we all expected, but it will hopefully still be fun.”

Kyla Mowry said she expected that school wouldn’t return to the building after March 13, but the official announcement “still hurt pretty bad.”

“It was extremely disappointing to hear that I wouldn’t be getting any closure to my K-12 education,” Mowry said. “It was hard to believe, but I know it is what was safest for everyone.”

Mowry said she’s stayed in contact with her friends and classmates through social media and hopes to be able to say “proper goodbyes” later this summer.

“For now, some of my classmates are doing drive-by parties, and I am looking forward to waving goodbye from a safe distance,” she said.

Klabus agreed with the other seniors, adding the staff at the district is what she’ll miss most.

“There is a lot that I will miss about Delaware City Schools,” Klabus said. “The community, opportunities, and experiences that have all been provided to me throughout my years in Delaware City Schools, but what I will miss most is my teachers. I have been so fortunate to have such caring and passionate teachers. They have all taught me so much, and I feel extremely lucky to have created such great connections with them.”

Klabus said she has decorated her car for graduation and is thankful the district organized the drive-thru ceremony. After graduation, Klabus will be attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, to study primary education.

Graduation will be held today at 10 a.m. Families will meet at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, and students will drive to the school where they will be handed their diplomas.

Hayes Senior Gianna Cordi takes a selfie with his cousin, Rocco Lumbaca, a freshmen at Olentangy Berlin High School, and Hayes Principal Ric Stranges at the high school’s “Decade Dance” earlier this school year. Cordi said he’ll miss Stranges, who he described as “the greatest principal of all time.” Senior Gianna Cordi takes a selfie with his cousin, Rocco Lumbaca, a freshmen at Olentangy Berlin High School, and Hayes Principal Ric Stranges at the high school’s “Decade Dance” earlier this school year. Cordi said he’ll miss Stranges, who he described as “the greatest principal of all time.” Courtesy photo | Gianni Cordi

Delaware Hayes High School senior Sydney Dunmire holds a duck in her hand on March 13, the last day that classes were held in person at Hayes. Hayes High School senior Sydney Dunmire holds a duck in her hand on March 13, the last day that classes were held in person at Hayes. Courtesy photo | Sydney Dunmire

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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