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SSA Davis-Monthan graduation ceremony brings tears

(TUCSON, Ariz., May 14, 2016) -- The Davis-Monthan Class of 2016 has another reason to remember what is usually in itself a very memorable family occasion -- a surprise reunion for two graduates and their officer father.

Salutatorian Skylar (left) and Valedictorian Cheyenne (right) are sisters who touched the emotions of the audience with their commencement remarks, unaware that they were soon to get a very emotional acknowledgement. After Cheyenne’s speech had ended, English teacher Mr. Pavlich, who delivered the faculty address, invited Skylar to the stage to relay a message from the girls’ father. Major XX (name withheld for military OPSEC), who is currently on a six-month deployment in the Middle East.

The major sent our school two U.S. flags that were flown in F-16 combat missions over Iraq and Syria; he hoped they would arrive on time for the graduation ceremony to be presented to his daughters on his behalf. With the help of the Air Force, not only did the flags arrive, but so did the Major, who surprised two daughters when he appeared from doors behind the stage. After stunned and joyous hugs, the Major presented the flags to Cheyenne and Skylar amid the girls’ -- and the attendees’ -- tears. The Major's 18-hour trip home was spent catching up on his daughters’ life events from the past three months. His presence at our SSA D-M commencement was an additional gift for our Class of 2016 honorees and their families on this celebratory weekend.

All of our graduates now commence their adult lives with new adventures. Imani Samuels-Griffith entered SSA Davis-Monthan when it opened in 2009 as a sixth grader; Imani is the first and only student enrolled at our school consecutively during the seven years the school has been in session. Joel Gutierrez III and Jay Labbe attended SSA Broadway through 8th grade then completed their high school years at Davis-Monthan. Ashley Springer and Julie Jones attended from their 8th through 12th grade years. Claudia Valdivia and Cody Kuszajewski transferred with their families to Tucson, to begin and complete their senior year with us.

The Class of 2016 is the third and largest graduating class of Sonoran Science Academy Davis-Monthan to date, will be remembered with great affection by their teachers and our staff for years to come. We are delighted that these students and families spent their time with us and we know that their new life journeys will be influenced by the learning, support and friendships they discovered at SSA D-M. 

Watch the video of the Major's arrival.