48 take their bows at Charter Tech graduation

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Class of 2012 valedictorian Mariah Ritchie of Wildwood sings during Charter Tech graduation.
MARGATE – their final performance as members of the "cast of 2012," 48 seniors from Charter Tech High School for the Performing Arts turned their tassels and will now go forward in search of their individual roles in life.

When the graduation ceremony concluded Monday, June 18 at the Dr. Dominick A. Potena Performing Arts Center, students from the Somers Point high school received one final rousing standing ovation.

Following the procession of graduates onto the stage, Santos Lugo III, Jasmine Graves and Cyno Martines, all of whom will pursue careers in the armed forces, led their classmates the Pledge of Allegiance. Lugo will join the U.S. Army and Graves and Martines will join the U.S. Navy.

The school choir, comprised of Mariah Ritchie, Bridgette Walker, Sarah Wallen, Ali Munoz, Kory Dunn, Cyno Martines, Lindsey Evans, Ciera Fazio, Adrianna Hill, Lyzzi Moore and Veronica Mucciarone, sang the national anthem.

Artistic coordinator at the school, Lew London, introduced the evening's performers as not just graduating students, but graduating artists.

"They communicate through their art and very often you get to know them better that way than face-to-face with them," said London.
Valedictorian Mariah Ritchie of Wildwood will attend University of the Arts in Philadelphia and major in vocal studies in the fall. She told her peers and teachers the impact they had on her development throughout four years at the school.

"I have witnessed them grow up within their music, and write inspirational lyrics that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Their heartfelt messages will eventually take them to faraway places, but no matter what, they will stay true to themselves and never change," said Ritchie.

"Other classmates have given me the confidence I needed to have my own voice. All of us have found a way to express our true selves through our voice, dance, acting, and filming. Some of us had the unique ability of taking a complication and making it into their own sitcom, and suddenly my day didn't seem as discouraging as it had previously. Their talents have inspired me to take bigger risks in my road to becoming a performer. Everyone has a unique character that has truly touched me; you are all one of a kind."

In addition to the inspiration that she found in her classmates, teachers and friends, Ritchie paid tribute to her mother.

"Throughout my high school career, I have been given far more than I deserve. I believe that every student, who has been raised with the idea that they can do anything beyond any odds, should consider themselves lucky. I am glad to have inherited my mother's stubbornness, that attitude helped me get into the University of the Arts," Ritchie said. "We have had our fights and frustrations, at times we rarely see eye to eye, but I have no regrets. My doubts and deliberations have led me to this crucial moment in my life; I wouldn't change them for the world.

"I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be to have to watch your child take their steps down the road toward their future without you by their side," she continued. "I may have to experience the same kind of heartbreak someday, but for now I'm very fortunate to be right here, on this stage, telling the world just how much you mean to me, Mom. We aren't meant to live forever, but what we carry with us always will. Mom, I get to take every lesson you've taught me on my way to adulthood, you're intelligence and strength. If nothing, I will always aspire to be like you."

Ritchie told her classmates to never give up on themselves. She said they are some of the most passion-driven seniors to ever graduate from the school

"This I believe. Over the past few weeks all we've been able to think about is graduating and moving on with our lives. Now that the moment has come, I think we're all really happy, and really scared. I'm hoping that while we are moving away from each other and onto this new road that we don't move on from the memories we've encased within the heart of this school and within ourselves.
"I do believe that we were born to be great, in how we succeed, and in what we succeed," Ritchie said.

"'This I Believe,' of the Charter Tech High School graduating class of 2012."

Photos by Shaun Smith
See more photos here


In the foreground saluting, Jasmine Graves and Cyno Martines lead their classmates in the Pledge of Allegiance.   Ryan Goukler of Ventnor and Amanda DeSouza of Margate perform during graduation.   Ali Munoz of Galloway sings during graduation.   Bridgette Walker of Somers Point and Kory Dunn of Pleasantville perform a medley.   Mariah Ritchie of Wildwood gives her valedictorian speech.


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