School graduates nine
It’s not every day that the person who cuts your hair is your high
school commencement speaker.
But then, Ocracoke isn’t like anywhere else.
It’s a place where the person who cuts your hair can get to know you
almost as well as your parents.
Susie Kennedy, who owns and operates Halo Hair, the only hair salon on
the island, has a special relationship to the nine students who were
graduated Sunday evening, June 12, in a ceremony held outdoors on the
grounds of Books to be Red.
Kennedy and the other commencement speaker, Karen Lovejoy, have been
part of the students’ lives for many years in their capacities with the
now-dormant Ocracoke Youth Center.
Lovejoy was the director and Kennedy is a board member and was Teen
Their speech was personalized to each student in a way no commencement
speaker in a school with even 20 graduates could do, as they enumerated
each student’s strengths.
In addition, as the ceremony was open to the public, various members of
the community with ostensibly no ties to the students attended along
with several underclassmen--something that’s also unheard of in large
schools that must limit attendees to a handful of each student’s family
In a small place like Ocracoke, adults often mingle with young people
in a variety of settings and thus get to know them.
This is what makes the community of Ocracoke so special, noted class
valedictorian, Joseph Franklin Chestnut, whose speech focused on
“community,” and how on Ocracoke, the school is the center of the
Joe noted that he had come with his family to Ocracoke when he was in
the first grade.
In an interview last fall when the Youth Center was realizing it had to
drastically wind down, possibly cease, its after-school operations
because of all the students attending the after-school 21st Century
grant program, Joe’s father, Bob, who owns the Surf Shop and is the
Youth Center board president said this unique setting is why the family
“The reason we moved here was to be able to spend time with my kids,”
Bob had said. ”In the outside world, parents aren’t home. Here, I can
go fishing after school with my kids.”
And Joe, along with his classmates, has excelled in this environment,
which shows in his receipt of the $30,000 London scholarship, an
academic honor that has not been awarded in a few years.
Joe, who is headed to George Washington University, also received the
$300 Farm Bureau and the $1,000 Beta scholarships.
School Principal Dr. Walter Padgett, who awarded the diplomas along
with school superintendent Dr. Randolph Latimore, noted that the
students attending college received more than $200,000 in scholarships
from those colleges, in addition to the community scholarships awarded.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming here to this island school,”
Padgett said in his remarks. “Living on Ocracoke is stepping back to
the days when school is the center of the community. Respect for self
and education are taught at home here.”
And, graduation was not just all about the students.
The students gave a Community Service Award, as they have for several
years, to someone in the community who has worked behind the scenes for
This year, the students gave this honor to Earl O’Neal, whose
involvement in the community is extensive.
Class Salutatorian Devynn Lorelle Mager also addressed the group and
revealed that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year.
Not one to let that stop her, Mager plans to attend Wingate University
in the fall. She received the Ocracoke School PTA Scholarship
The other graduates and their awards are as follows:
who moved to Ocracoke last year, received a $10,000 scholarship from
the State Employees’ Credit Union (People Helping People Scholarship).
She will attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
who will attend Tidewater Community College, received the Class of 1982
scholarship in the amount of $2,140. He also received the Beveridge and
Mayo Scholarship, $500.
received the $2,500 National County Courthouse Scholarship from the
Hyde County Commissioners. She will attend Appalachian State University.
will be working fulltime.
will attend Pitt Community College. She received a $1,000 scholarship
from the Ocracoke Assembly of God Church, as well as the Ellen Holloday
Scholarship, $750; Ocracoke Invitational Fishing Tournament
Scholarship, $500; Ocracoke Variety Store, $250.
will attend Beaufort Community College. She received the $2,700 Greg
and Eden Honeycutt Scholarship (through the Ocracoke Community
who will attend Pitt Community College, received the following
scholarships: Anonymous in memory of Charlotte Castro, $1,000; Ocracoke
Variety Store, $250; Wells Fargo, $750; David Ondrovic (Wells Fargo),