Sequoyah High School holds early commencement for 3 graduates
Sequoyah High School graduates, from left to right, Braydon Fields, Trenton Harris and Solomon Winn prepare to receive their high school diplomas. The three graduated separately from the SHS 2020 class because they have to report to military training before the school’s July 31 graduation date. COURTESY
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. addresses three Sequoyah High School graduates in a special commencement ceremony on June 25. Braydon Fields, Trenton Harris and Solomon Winn received a special ceremony because they have to report to military training before the school’s July 31 graduation date. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – There seems no end to the interferences of COVID-19, including graduation ceremonies. Sequoyah High School delayed its 2020 commencement, but realized it wouldn’t take place in time for three of its seniors headed for military service: Braydon Fields, Trenton Harris and Solomon Winn.
So SHS made special arrangements, and family, friends and educators were on hand June 25 to award diplomas specifically to the three.
The school’s full commencement is tentatively scheduled for July 31, during which the other 87 seniors will graduate.
Harris wants to pursue a career as a combat medic in the Army, but also wants to become a professional welder.
“My first career choice before welding was to go into pharmacy,” Harris said. “Then I kind of changed my mind, but I’d still like to have that knowledge. After I get out of basic, I can go be an EMT anywhere in the U.S. that I want to.”
Fields, who wants to make the Army a career, was appreciative of the extra effort made by SHS to give him and two classmates a commencement, even if it wasn’t with the rest of the class.
“Sequoyah has really made an impact on me, and it’s something I’ll never forget; especially all of the memories, the friends, the teachers that helped me throughout the years,” Fields said. “It’s really a one-of-a-kind school and I’m glad I chose it.”
Winn, joining the Army National Guard, was also thankful for some graduation pomp, especially amid such a surreal end to his high school years.
“It was kind of a bummer, I guess you could say,” Winn said. “Other than that, I felt like I had a pretty good year, a lot of fun, and got the most out of it.”
Fields conveyed the imminence of his service and the need for the ceremony – he was to leave just three days after.
“It’s very emotional that my high school years have come to an end,” Fields said. “But I know the next chapter starts with my military career, which starts Sunday.”
The graduates and all in attendance were masked against COVID-19. Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. stressed the importance of giving all students the experience of graduation whatever the circumstances.
“COVID-19 has impacted all our lives, and it’s had us change things we normally take for granted, like graduations (that) happen every year,” he said. “We know they can’t happen the way they’ve always happened, so it’s great to have the resources to plan a safe ceremony for them. It’s also great that we have the resources and leadership in our education department to say, ‘These three young men can’t be there. What can we do for them?’”
Also present was S. Joe Crittenden, a Navy veteran and Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the Cherokee Nation. “Today we can stand here today and be in this service. This weekend, we can go to the service of our choice. We can move from state to state. We have freedom because of those veterans that stood in the breach. They had to, to protect our way of life. These young men are going to fill some of that gap.”
Patrick Moore, the new SHS superintendent, also spoke, noting that he was in an awkward situation.
“I’ve not had the privilege of getting to know these young men,” Moore said. “Essentially, I know nothing about them and they know nothing about me. There is one thing I know about you – that I know about each one of you – and that is you are today, and forever will be, Sequoyah Indians.”