Surprises and More
TULSA, OKLA. – “Surprise! Happy graduation!” Tulsa Adventist Academy (TAA) students in kindergarten, eighth and twelfth grades did not have traditional graduation ceremonies this year, but they certainly had celebrations.
Amid a flurry of flowers, balloons, cupcakes and TAA teachers, our kindergarten and eighth grade students were treated to a graduation song (“Happy Graduation to you” a la “Happy Birthday”) and the TAA principal, Shaun Lazarus, hand-delivering diplomas to each graduate.
TAA teachers traveled across Green Country in Northeast Oklahoma to surprise each student and welcome the graduates to either first or ninth grade. It was a blessing for them and the teachers to be together for a few minutes, as they were last united physically as a school on March 13, 2020, before turning to virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
TAA’s four seniors donned their caps and gowns on May 12 at Tulsa First Seventh-day Adventist Church for a physically distant commencement with their parents, with families sitting in separate pews. The commencement was just like any other—spiritual, inspirational, encouraging—but no juniors, families or friends were present.
Some special features of the event were yearbook editor Sophia Fisher presenting and dedicating the Golden Embers yearbook to Jennifer Whittington, one of TAA’s incredible secretaries. Enga Almeida, Southwestern Adventist University vice president for enrollment, presented scholarships and awards to each graduate (three are now attending Southwestern).
Nic Coutet, pastor of Tulsa’s Adventist Fellowship, gave the seniors advice for their upcoming higher education with his hallmark enthusiasm, throwing in a few memories from their teachers.
Afterward, the graduates enjoyed cupcakes and gifts with the few attendees and capped the evening with “masked” photos. Watch each senior contribute to the commencement with special music, parent tributes and more at TulsaSDA.org on the “Media” tab or at TAA Graduation on the church’s YouTube channel.
A big congratulations to TAA’s Class of 2020!
By Caroline A. Fisher