By Noelle H. Lowery
Family, faculty, staff and school board members joined together Friday, May 30, to salute and celebrate the first-ever graduating class of the Marco Island Academy. The ceremony was held in the Capri Ballroom at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort.
Among the local dignitaries in attendance were MIA Founder and Chairwoman Jane Watt, former MIA principal George Andreozzi, current Principal Melissa Scott and Marco Island Marriott General Manager Rick Medwedeff.
The ceremony marked the end of a week filled with nervous excitement and anxious anticipation for the 20 students who made up MIA’s class of 2014. On Thursday, May 29, MIA staff held a Senior Breakfast to honor the graduates and to recognize their academic achievements.
Myra Ortega was named the class valedictorian and Jacob Hurtley the salutatorian. The two outstanding students also received a number of additional accolades. Ortega was awarded a number of scholarships, including the Andrew Hunter Homes Role Model Scholarship, a Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation Scholarship and a Marco Island Noontime Rotary Club Scholarship. She also was recognized for outstanding achievements from the Science Department at MIA. Hurtley was named a State of Florida Scholar and received Merit Diploma designation.
AnnMarie Grossi also was recognized for her exceptional academic achievements, having received a scholarships through the Bright Futures Florida program, the Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation and Marco Island Woman’s Club. Grossi also received the Social Studies Department award.
Patrick Silveri received a scholarship from the Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation and recognition from MIA’s Art and English departments. John Olszak earned scholarships from the Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation and the Marco Island Woman’s Club, and also was recognized for his accomplishments in the MIA Math Department.
In addition to her scholarship from the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, Taylor Matheny was the recipient of the Manta Ray Service Award. Alexa Campisi received the Manta Ray Leadership Award, and Kiera Ludwigsen was presented the Manta Ray Spirit Award.
Other MIA class of 2014 scholarship winners included Alex Excell (Andrew Hunter Homes Role Model Scholarship)l Ian Van Cleef (Florida Polytechnic University Inaugural Scholarship); Sarah Reisinger (Marco Island Sunrise Rotary Club Scholarship); and Joshua Delsing (Marco Island Woman’s Club).
After the speeches and diplomas were handed out, MIA’s class of 2014 converged on the beach to fulfill the tried and true celebratory graduation tradition of tossing their caps into the air. The sun was setting in the western sky as caps and tassels flew into the air quickly followed by the excited sounds of expectation and relief, allowing MIA’s first graduating class to say one final farewell.