By Danny Schrafel
Last week, Harborfields senior Karen Flood was facing the prospect of missing three major high school milestones in her high school career – her Harborfields High School graduation, her Wilson Tech graduation and the senior prom.
But thanks to some quick thinking by her parents and school administrators, Flood received a graduation ceremony that was, quite literally, all her own.
After winning a Skills USA state competition in audio production in April, Flood had earned a berth in the national competition this June in Louisville, Ky. At Wilson Tech in Dix Hills, she studies all aspects of audio, from software, microphone techniques, recording, mixing and the science behind it all.
There was one catch, though – the national Skills USA championship for trade school students who excel in their chosen field overlaps with both high school graduation and prom.
Then came May 13 – the day of Harborfields High School’s annual mandatory senior seminar. After some cajoling by Karen’s mom, Sherrill Flood, her daughter was in the audience – setting the stage for a big surprise.
Sherrill said that her daughter had mentioned to school board trustee and prolific volunteer photographer Hansen Lee that she was missing prom and graduation due to the Skills USA nationals. He told Manning, setting the gears into motion toward the moment last week when Manning pulled out a white robe, helped Karen into it, put on her cap and presented her a diploma – a most joyous shock indeed.
“We’re so proud of her, but at the same time, we’re a little bit selfishly sad because Karen will not be here for prom, and she will also not be here for graduation,” Manning told the assembly. “I don’t know about you, but I really can’t let her go out like that.”
There was a little catch – with classes still ongoing, Manning could only declare her, by the powers vested in him as principal, “almost graduated – assuming she passes all of her finals,” he quipped. But with her achievements so far, that should be little worry.
One hint may have come from her mom, though.
“I was wearing my pajamas – she made me change,” Flood said. “When he pulled out the gown and cap, I started crying.”
Now, the efforts are underway toward addressing Karen’s absence from prom.
“The theme of her graduation party is ‘prom,’” Sherrill said. “That way, she can wear her prom dress.”