More than 260 students celebrated their graduation from Sussex Technical High School on Thursday, June 3, capping four years of career-technical education and academic excellence that even a global pandemic could not stop.

“You are walking different paths from this day forward,” said Principal John Demby. “Our students are going directly into their careers, pursuing higher education and serving in the armed forces. But no matter your goals and aspirations, you are all proud Ravens, and we are proud of you.”

Each Sussex Tech student chooses one of 17 career-technical areas in which to concentrate their studies, ranging from automotive technologies and environmental/landscaping to physical therapy and HVAC. The most popular areas among the Class of 2021 were health professions, legal support services and criminal justice, early care and education, dental services, and business, finance and marketing.

Sussex Tech graduates earn both high school diplomas and technical certificates in their field of study. The diploma recognizes the work in their traditional academic subjects to meet state graduation requirements, and the technical certificate recognizes their accomplishments in their career-technical area. In many cases, graduates have earned industry-standard professional certifications to prepare them for the workforce or additional education or training.

This year’s valedictorian was Trent Sapna of Lewes, an electrical and green energy student who will be studying business management at the University of South Carolina.

In his remarks, Sapna shared a lesson of resilience and internal toughness.

“We may have gotten knocked down a few times, and we may have faced some difficult challenges, but we haven’t let it keep us down,” he said. “We’ve gotten back up, dusted ourselves off, and helped each other reach this point today.”

The salutatorian was Luanna Fajardo of Ocean View, a legal support services and criminal justice graduate who will be studying psychology at Tulane University.

Fajardo reflected on the year split between remote and in-person learning.

“Now that we are finally back, we have to leave again,” she said. “This time it isn’t for a quarantine lockdown or summer break, it is to begin our futures. As if we haven’t experienced enough uncertainty this year, we have to deal with not knowing what the future will look like. Luckily, the Class of 2021 knows how to deal with the unknown.”

The senior class president is Trinity Kelso of Millsboro, a business, finance and marketing student who will be studying commerce and business at the University of Virginia. Kelso recounted memories of the last four years, from students wandering the halls as wide-eyed freshmen to Zoom meetings as seniors.

“As we sit apart today, we remain closer now than ever,” she said. “This afternoon marks a new chapter for the Class of 2021. A chapter where our stories are not defined by the brick walls of Sussex Tech, but instead inspired by them. Stories where the memories of our youth inspire us to pursue better versions of ourselves and completely change the world we emerge into.”

Commencement speaker Jimmie Allen, a nationally acclaimed country music star and native Sussex Countian, delivered an inspirational message emphasizing self-confidence and hard work.

“What you want to do in life and what you get out of life is what you put into it,” Allen said. “Every person in here managed to graduate during the pandemic — you’ve got what it takes to make whatever your dreams are a reality.”

Local students who graduated with the Class of 2021 and their technical areas included:

  • Bethany Beach — Evan Davis, HVAC-R
  • Dagsboro — Faith Bruette, Early Care & Education; Josiah Dennis, Automotive Technologies; Rylee Donaway, Dental Services; Nina Fike, Digital Publishing & Print Design; Alicia Foreman, Dental Services; Hadlie Jarvis, Dental Services; Maxwell McCann, Business, Finance & Marketing; Brielle Snook, Health Professions; Julia Sturla, Early Care & Education; Maelynn Tsang, Health Professions
  • Frankford — Lillian Kwiecien, Health Professions; Christopher Lewis, Automotive Technologies
  • Millsboro — Tori Banning, Health Professions; Camille Bello, Physical Therapy – Athletic Health Care; Alexis Birdsong, Legal Support Services & Criminal Justice; Taylor Bullis, Environmental & Landscaping; Julia Buoni, Digital Publishing & Print Design; Jaxon Camper, HVAC-R; Delina Christenbury, Cosmetology; Dillan Coffin, Legal Support Services & Criminal Justice; Skylar Cole, Media Broadcasting Communications; Kaylyn Cordrey, Physical Therapy—Athletic Health Care; Ta’Niya Curtis, Early Care & Education; Karly Davis, Early Care & Education; Cyrus Fox, Electronics; Ashley Gale, Cosmetology; Izabella Handy, Cosmetology; Ella Hudson, Physical Therapy – Athletic Health Care; Olivia Hudson, Early Care & Education; Shania Kellam, Cosmetology; Trinity Kelso, Business, Finance & Marketing; Abigail Krams, Media Broadcasting Communications; Elizabeth Krams, Early Care & Education; Haley Marvel, Early Care & Education; J’Sean Matthews, Business, Finance & Marketing; Olivia McDonald, Cosmetology; Madelyn Moore, Legal Support Services & Criminal Justice; Michael Morroni, Cisco Networking; Travis Nock, Business, Finance & Marketing; Christopher Phillips, Carpentry & Construction Management; Martin Proano, Electronics; Addison Selzer, Early Care & Education; Parker Selzer, Legal Support Services & Criminal Justice; Megan Smith, Dental Services; Zachary Snell, Cisco Networking; Megan Sterling, Environmental & Landscaping; Rebeca Velazquez-Osorio, Health Professions; Paige Warren, Legal Support Services & Criminal Justice
  • Millville — Aidan Christopher, Business, Finance & Marketing
  • Ocean View — Luanna Fajardo, Legal Support Services & Criminal Justice; Charles Jordan, HVAC-R; Austin Kessell, Automotive Technologies
  • Selbyville: Jalyah Harmon, Dental Services; Seth Hill, Business, Finance & Marketing; Alexandra Johnson, Health Professions; Save’ion Kellam, Business, Finance & Marketing; Braedan Lehman, Dental Services; Victoria Noon, Business, Finance & Marketing; Olivia Parker, Dental Services; Kiley Persolio, Dental Services; Alina Ritter, Health Professions; Zechariah Savage, Automotive Technologies; Nizhae Tull, Health Professions.