506 say ‘goodbye’ to FHS

Hearts and stands were full Sunday, May 21, when 506 seniors from Farragut High School’s Class of 2023 graduated in Eddie Courtney Stadium/Bill Clabo Field.

Seniors Melody Dalili, who was Knoxville’s first youth poet laureate, and Ella Pinchok, one of four drum majors for the FHS Marching Admirals band, delivered commencement addresses, while class co-valedictorians, Eyrin Kim and Justin Li, and salutatorian Ridhima Singh were singled out.

FHS’s Advanced Mixed Choir sang both the National Anthem and “Irish Blessing.”

Senior class officers — president Will Duncan, vice president Cathlene “Cathy” Horwege, secretary Natalie Osorio and treasurer Amzie Beeler — opened the ceremony while Student Government Association officers Kathleen “Kate” Ford, Emily Day and Mathew Ferrari oversaw the traditional “Tolling of the Bell,” commemorating Admirals who could not attend or who had passed away. Class principal was Steve Killian.

FHS principal Dr. John Bartlett noted the class had eight National Merit Finalists, 27 National Merit Commended scholars; three national African American Recognition Awards and one national Hispanic Recognition Award.

“The Class of 2023 has over 40,000 hours of community service,” he added.

Additionally, “79 percent of this class has earned a Hope Scholarship,” Bartlett said.

“We know about $35 million dollars worth of scholarships have been offered to (this) FHS Class, but I believe it’s higher than that because some of you didn’t fill out your senior form,” he added. “So we are very proud of you.”

Jack Osario received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. “There is one student who has enlisted in the Army, one in Tennessee Army National Guard, two in the Tennessee Air National Guard and one in the U.S. Marine Corps,” Barlett said. “The Class of 2023 has 11 students who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout, and eight students earned Girl Scout Gold Awards — the highest achievements for Scouts.”

The principal concluded the ceremony by reciting the complete lyrics from the song, “I Hope You Dance.”

Dignitaries included superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk, Town officials and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.

Bartlett broke from the program by encouraging the class to thank their parents in the bleachers, take selfies of themselves (and their neighbors) and the crowd to remember the day, and later in the program, also suggested they seek out favorite teachers to hug one last time.

“When you look back on that selfie, I hope you see what I see —a young man or young woman ready, because of the last four years,” said Bartlett. “And, when you look at the picture with your neighbor, I hope you see the people who have been on this journey with you.

“Then, when you see the picture of the crowd, I hope you see the family that cheered you on,” he added.

which includes this first stanza:

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder

You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger

May you never take one single breath for granted

God forbid love ever leave you empty handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance, I hope you dance”