Happy Hearts commencement brings happy tears

May 26—ASHTABULA — As commencements go, the one at Happy Hearts School was small, with just nine graduates.

But the hugs, smiles and parents' tears were as big as those at any public high school's ceremony.

The Class of 2023 celebrated their accomplishments Wednesday at the Ashtabula County Educational Service Center.

Donning black caps and gowns, the graduates filed into the gymnasium to the traditional Pomp and Circumstance.

Red geraniums, balloons and cheers from family, friends, teachers and staff greeted the happy graduates.

Principal Todd Tulino welcomed everyone and gave a brief history of the Happy Hearts School, starting with its inception in 1955.

The student keynote speaker, graduating senior Saloma Troyer, thanked all the teachers and staff for "helping us all these years." She also thanked Tulino "for always doing what is best for the students."

Saloma encouraged and inspired her fellow graduates to "keep working hard and you can do big things."

Michelle Bentley, a Happy Hearts teacher from the Educational Service Center campus, was the guest speaker. She spoke about the new opportunities available to graduates. She read a poem she wrote describing the new journey.

Happy Hearts Board President Joseph Donatone presented the seniors with their graduation certificates on behalf of the Board of Education.

Afterward, the festivities continued as graduates and their families enjoyed refreshments and an opportunity to take pictures of the big day.

"The Ashtabula County Educational Service Center extends our warmest congratulations to these amazing Happy Hearts students on their well-deserved graduation," Tulino said. "There is no doubt these fine young men and women will continue to shine and make a positive impact in the world."

The Happy Hearts Class of 2023 includes: Mackenzie Baker-Reen, Cierra Eaton, Charlie Ehrhart, Brian Hamilton, Garrett King, Zachary Hutchens, Jonathan Lemmo, Jarrick Peterson and Saloma Troyer.