by MAYA MCFADDEN | Jun 18, 2019 9:14 am
After moving to Connecticut from North Carolina and adjusting to his new family setting, Tyrek Smith, 19 made it through high school and secured a career in the United States Marine Corps.
Smith (pictured above) was among 79 graduates receiving diplomas at the Sound School, Monday night as Principal Rebecca Gratz led a commencement ceremony on the George E. Foote Building Lawn on Sea Street.
Smith was awarded the Sound School Alumni Scholarship, which he intends to put to use for his higher education plans after the military. “It [award] made me feel important and made me feel like I can change the world,” he said.
Two other graduates, Lindsay Garcia, and Melanie Aguayo, are also making an alternative post-graduation commitment to careers in the military.
Smith said he had an interest in the military since his freshman year of high school and is dedicated to serving his country.
The “little school on the water,” as valedictorian Sofia Wilson called Sound during her address to classmates, was the place where she said she made lifelong friends and gained a passion and dedication to environmental restoration. “I knew Sound was the place for me from day one,” she said.
Three prizes were awarded for the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) Capstone Award by PAC member Betsy Driebeek. The PAC Capstone Scholarship is open to seniors who present a capstone project to five parent judges. The funds for the prizes were raised by parents/guardians through donations, an art night, a waterfront festival’s T-shirt sales, vendor tables, and raffle.
Amanda D’Amico placed third and was awarded $500, Emily Ferrucci placed second and was awarded $1000, and Rachael Harris placed first and was awarded $1500.
The diverse Sound Class of 2019 shed tears and laughs together during the ceremony honoring their last moments as high school students.
“It feels unreal—It feels like it was just yesterday that I was struggling with my capstone,” Smith said.
Smith moved to New Haven to get a better education and a clean slate in his academics with his adoptive parents. While adjusting to his new lifestyle, Smith said, he wasn’t sure what he was getting into when transferring to Sound
“At first I thought Sound was a music school,” he said. (It is a regional Agriculture Science and Technology Center, focusing on marine sciences and trades.)
He also struggled to get along with his father at times, especially after his mother died a year and a half ago, leaving his father to raise him alone. He was frustrated with the many sudden changes in his life, he said.
Though upon graduation he found a place at Sound and bonded with nearly everyone in his senior class.
Despite his past, he remained outgoing, friendly, and lighthearted. “He [father] didn’t give up on me—he gave me the chance to understand family, which is what I found at Sound,” Smith said.