The Otto-Eldred Jr./Sr. School District will release its virtual graduation ceremony on Friday at 7 p.m. The prerecorded ceremony will be released on the district’s YouTube page.

This year’s ceremony will feature speeches from the three mantle holders, who are Mackenzie Wilcox (Academic), Emilie Reitler (Industrial Arts) and Abigail Bennett (Career and Technical Center). The guest speaker will be Otto-Eldred Class of 2005 alumnus Kevin Shields.

Wilcox is the daughter of Teresa and Corey Wilcox. She will attend Misericordia University majoring in biology following a pre-med track.

All mantle holders were asked what helped them end their senior year on a positive note, even after the closure. Wilcox responded, “The support and encouragement of my peers, teachers, and family has helped me finish out my senior year.”

Reitler is the daughter of Ed and Tammy Reitler. She will attend Alfred State College majoring in machine tool technology.

Reitler said, “The major thing that has helped me end my senior year on a positive note is my teachers and Mr. Ramsey. They have emailed me and connected many times. Having the connection has really helped me end my high school career on a high note.”

Bennett is the daughter of Keith Bennett and Faith Bennett. Her future plan is to enter the workforce.

Bennett said, “My friends and family have definitely been a huge support with me ending the school year the way it has. They have helped me stay positive about it all and still enjoy being a 2020 graduate.”

Shields attended Westminster College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education in 2009. He obtained his master’s in music education from Kent State University in 2012.

He worked as a middle school band director and high school musical director for 10 years at Slippery Rock Schools. He also held a position as an adjunct faculty member at Westminster College teaching accompaniment classes and directed their fall musicals.

Shields then taught private piano and woodwind lessons for 12 years at Marks Music and was an active musical director at the New Castle, Salem, Youngstown Playhouses. He was a guest accompanist in 2015, 2017 and 2019 at Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s Junior and Senior High Chorus Festivals.

Shields now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he is currently employed at Coney Island Prep Middle School. Here he has started a music program for the first time in the school’s history, as well as a ukulele program and an after school choir. He looks forward to more being developed.

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