A musical farewell for DSA’s 2014 graduates

Jun. 12, 2014 @ 10:45 PM

It was a special day for Principal David Hawks as he stood on the platform before Durham School of the Arts’ Class of 2014.
They’re his first graduating class, full of kids who started sixth grade in 2007, the year he came aboard as principal.
“It has been an honor and a privilege,” he told the more than 150 students sitting in Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday. “I have been fortunate enough to watch you grow up.”
He told them to remember who they are in the years to come, to take pride in what they’ve accomplished at DSA, from creative endeavors to athletics.
“As a class, you like to challenge yourselves,” he said.
The school’s graduating seniors also boast about $6 million in scholarships for the next four years, he said.
Characteristic of the arts-focused school, the commencement ceremony included several musical performances.
The chorus performed a spiritual called “Ride the Chariot.” Logan Benton and Lee Treml played a dynamic piano duet of “Sonata in D for Two Hands, Four Hands” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. And five graduating seniors – Austin Balen, John Bradford, Rodrigo Cruz-Romero, Hunter Scaggs and Elijah Weinreb – picked up guitars to play George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.”
Camil Craciunescu, salutatorian for the Class of 2014, told his fellow seniors that “we’re really here, graduating from one of the best high schools in North Carolina.”
He thanked parents and teachers.
He thanked providence, because students had to win lotteries to make it into DSA.
“We need luck in everything we do,” he said.
He praised classmates for helping each other through major milestones – “first kiss, first love, first heartbreak.”
They came into the school as kids, he said, but now they depart as young men and women who have unleashed the power of their right brain as artists, writers, musicians, actors, dancers and singers.
Valedictorian Cody Li, who starts his college career at Duke this fall, said people must take risks to live life to the fullest.
“Make every error an opportunity,” he said.
He sometimes worries about what’s going on out in the real world that waits for them, from financial crises to terrorist attacks.
“If this were any other class, I’d be unsure how we might handle it,” Li said. “But before me are some of the brightest, highly talented and motivated minds our generation has to offer.”
Of the Class of 2014, he went on, “I am absolutely certain we’ll succeed in whatever path we choose.”
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