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Helmut Schmidt, Published June 01 2012

The Eagles are landing: Davies graduates first class

FARGO – The first crop of Eagles is ready to fly from the nest.

On Sunday, Adan Abdi will be the first senior in Davies High School history to swoop across the stage at the Fargodome and accept his diploma.

He’ll be followed by a flock of 216 others in caps and gowns.

“It’s a good thing. I’m honored, proud.” Abdi said after graduation practice Friday at the dome. “To be the first (graduating class) is just a good feeling.”

At the same time, the aspiring chef said it’s hard to leave his alma mater.

“It’s kind of a sweet and bitter thing,” Abdi said. “Bittersweet.”

Clara Cosmas was all smiles on the arena floor.

“I think it’s amazing. It’s wonderful,” Cosmas said.

She has her eye on college after graduation.

“Davies taught me a lot. Don’t be afraid. Go out and explore the world. But the most important part, go out and have fun,” she said, before sprinting for the stands to catch up with her friends.

Principal Jeff Schatz calls this graduation the last “first” in a year of firsts for Fargo’s newest school.

Schatz said when the first day of school came, he was hoping to get everyone in class and learning within a couple periods.

That wasn’t a problem.

“By 8:15 that day, everyone was in class, and teachers were teaching,” he said.

“In all the years I’ve been a high school principal, it was probably the smoothest,” Schatz said.

That’s a testament to the students, particularly the seniors, he said.

“Our seniors got bounced around a bit” as the transition was made to creating a school identity for Davies. (For a time, both South High School and Davies operated as schools within the walls of South.)

But the seniors were great examples of how to handle change, he said.

“If I was going to have to open a school again, and I was to pick a class, I’d pick you,” Schatz told them as graduation practice wound up.

“When you open a new school, a lot of things can go wrong.” With this year’s seniors, “a lot of things went right,” he said.

It cost more than $40 million to build Davies High. Its construction was approved by the School Board, but it never went to a vote of the district’s residents, angering some people.

Board members said that the school would relieve overcrowding at South High and give students more opportunities to get involved in activities and connect with their schools.

Davies seniors say that on both counts, it was mission accomplished.

“It gave so many more kids the opportunity” to take part in activities such as baseball, football and volleyball, Connor Camrud said.

“I personally prefer the smaller environment and the community feel. I pretty much know everyone in my grade. I really appreciate every aspect of that,” Camrud said.

“You’re more one-on-one with the teachers,” added Nick Benjamin.

“I feel more like a family at this school,” said Meghan DeVries.

The difficulties posed by the transition to two south side high schools helped forge an identity for Davies students, some said.

“We’ve definitely been shuffled around a bit, but I look at my high school experience and it’s been very unique. I think I’ve come to embrace all that,” said Robert Kringler.

“At times, it might not have seemed like it, but looking back, it’s been a good run,” DeVries agreed.

Davies High will have at least one big change for the coming year.

Schatz is leaving as skipper at Davies to become the Fargo School District’s next superintendent on July 1.

In the meantime, Troy Cody, a North High School assistant principal and activities director, will take over as principal at Davies for the 2012-13 school year.

Before closing Friday’s rehearsal, Schatz told the seniors that they conducted themselves with class.

“It has been what I call, a perfect year,” Schatz said, encouraging them to keep their graduation exuberance in the civil range during the ceremony. “Let’s stay classy, Davies!”

Graduations Sunday

The Fargo-Moorhead metro area’s biggest public high schools all will be holding graduation ceremonies this Sunday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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