Olentangy Valley News

Ceremonies marked by special send-off

Olentangy seniors toss their caps in Saturday's trio of commencements

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Olentangy Liberty High School teacher Dawn Imbrogno takes a picture of graduate Bobby Wolfe with his good friend Robert Bell prior to the school's graduation ceremony Saturday, June 1, at the Ohio Expo Center. Wolfe is a special-needs student who chose Bell, a custodian at the school, to greet him on stage as he received his diploma.
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By ThisWeek Community News  • 

When they graduate, Olentangy seniors are invited to choose a special teacher to shake their hand as they cross the stage.

Olentangy Liberty High School graduate Bobby Wolfe's choice was someone who had much to teach him during his high school years -- but not always in the classroom.

Wolfe, a 22-year-old special-needs student, was greeted on stage by Robert Bell, his school's custodian, during a graduation ceremony Saturday, June 1, at the Ohio Expo Center.

Bell has tirelessly assisted the school's special-needs students over the years, said Wolfe's mother, Gina Wolfe.

Mrs. Wolfe said the custodian helped her son learn custodial skills between classes and after school -- skills that he may be able to use for jobs in the future.

Bell also is a friend to the special-needs students. He frequently assists teachers and paid out-of-pocket to host a pizza party for the students, Mrs. Wolfe said.

At graduation, Bell shook Wolfe's hand and hugged him on stage.

"It's just so touching that he takes the time out of his schedule and sometimes works overtime for these students," Mrs. Wolfe said, adding: "He bear-hugged Bobby at graduation. Bobby loved it."

In all, Olentangy schools celebrated the achievements of 1,055 graduating seniors last weekend.

Graduation ceremonies for all three Olentangy high schools were held June 1 at the expo center.

Olentangy High School kicked off the day with its 2013 graduation ceremony at 10 a.m. The ceremony honored 333 seniors.

Principal Tom McDonnell said members of the class of 2013 have seen big success in the past four years.

"They are very strong academically, artistically, athletically -- you name it," McDonnell said. "This is a great group."

He added that before leaving for college, class members were awarded more than $17 million in scholarships.

The valedictorian is Amjad Akif.

Liberty High School held its graduation ceremony at 2 p.m. Graduating seniors numbered 403.

Principal Randy Wright said the senior class is a memorable group that excelled academically, racking up achievements in and out of the classroom.

"I know as they move into the next phase of their lives, they have the potential to do great things," he said.

Amy Li is the class valedictorian.

Orange High School rounded out the day's events with the third ceremony at 6 p.m. It recognized 319 graduating seniors.

Principal Todd Meyer said the outgoing seniors are academically gifted.

"This is a very high achieving and focused group," he said.

Members of the graduating class also are caring and generous, and have dedicated more than 5,000 hours to community service, Meyer said.

The school recognized two valedictorians for 2013: Sneha Rajendran and Dane Sowers.