At Wilmington College, a father’s flatbed trailer serves as an improvised graduation stage


Family: There has to be a stage

By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



Samantha Harter, facing camera, walks on her father’s flatbed trailer to receive her Wilmington College diploma from WC Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Agriculture Dr. Corey Cockerill.

Samantha Harter, facing camera, walks on her father’s flatbed trailer to receive her Wilmington College diploma from WC Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Agriculture Dr. Corey Cockerill.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Samantha Harter, facing camera, receives her Wilmington College diploma from WC Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Agriculture Dr. Corey Cockerill on a makeshift stage.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Jared Shoemaker has his Wilmington College diploma and his moment on stage. At left, Dr. Corey Cockerill, an associate professor of communication arts and agriculture at WC, presented Shoemaker his new diploma.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — Terry Harter’s daughter is a member of the Wilmington College Class of 2020 and so her graduation ceremony was held online instead of the normal mass gathering in the gymnasium at Hermann Court.

The family felt that Samantha Harter should have her time on a stage to accentuate her achievement of earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Mr. Harter, a truck driver, had just the thing.

He owns a long flat-bed trailer that he notes is about the same height off the ground as a stage. He has a truck cab to pull the trailer to Elm Street (aka Martin Luther King Jr. Way) that runs in front of Hermann Court on the Wilmington College campus.

And he built two sets of wooden steps for Samantha to ascend and descend after her name was announced on the audio system from the online commencement.

A clean, gray tarp covered the walking surface of the flatbed.

The last element — a representative of Wilmington College — came together thanks to another WC 2020 graduate, communication arts major Jared Shoemaker who was a swimming teammate of Samantha’s. He texted Associate Professor of Communication Arts Corey Cockerill 10 a.m. Saturday and wondered if she would be available at 11 a.m.

The text asked her whether she could hand him his diploma on a makeshift trailer-stage. Cockerill was heading to Wilmington anyway to deliver coffee to Kava Haus, and so she retrieved her formal, professorial commencement gown and was there in time to hand over diplomas to Shoemaker and Harter.

Harter is from North Canton, Ohio and Shoemaker from Springfield. Both had family present to watch them receive their WC degrees on a stage within sight of Hermann Court.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Samantha Harter, facing camera, walks on her father’s flatbed trailer to receive her Wilmington College diploma from WC Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Agriculture Dr. Corey Cockerill.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/06/web1_lady_p.jpgSamantha Harter, facing camera, walks on her father’s flatbed trailer to receive her Wilmington College diploma from WC Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Agriculture Dr. Corey Cockerill. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Samantha Harter, facing camera, receives her Wilmington College diploma from WC Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Agriculture Dr. Corey Cockerill on a makeshift stage.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/06/web1_lady_2_p.jpgSamantha Harter, facing camera, receives her Wilmington College diploma from WC Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Agriculture Dr. Corey Cockerill on a makeshift stage. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

Jared Shoemaker has his Wilmington College diploma and his moment on stage. At left, Dr. Corey Cockerill, an associate professor of communication arts and agriculture at WC, presented Shoemaker his new diploma.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/06/web1_guy_p.jpgJared Shoemaker has his Wilmington College diploma and his moment on stage. At left, Dr. Corey Cockerill, an associate professor of communication arts and agriculture at WC, presented Shoemaker his new diploma. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal
Family: There has to be a stage

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com