Sunday’s commencement exercises at Jonathan Alder High School began with a second of reflection as principal Michael Aurin urged the 156 graduates to breath in, look around and take stock of the moment.
It was the 61st graduation for the largest and fastest-growing school district in Madison County. And once the moment of reflection passed, administrators got down to the business of recognizing accomplishments and awarding diplomas to the Class of 2017.
Superintendent Gary Chapman gave a nod to staff — both past and present — for their dedication and service. He also acknowledged the contributions of military veterans in the audience and the six members of the graduating class who plan to join the armed forces. He thanked parents and guardians for their ongoing support and guidance.
“Commencement can be both an end or a beginning,” Chapman told the graduates. “We hope we’ve helped you make the right choices — both now and in the future.”
Aurin recognized the academic and athletic accomplishments of the class. Sixty-eight members graduated with honor and distinction, 22 with honors and 37 with honors diplomas. Thirty-eight graduates received various vocational certifications from Tolles Career & Technical Center.
In addition, Aurin noted class members won the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division in football, boys golf, boys soccer, volleyball, girls soccer, girls tennis, boys and girls bowling and baseball. The boys bowling team also finished 11th in the state tournament and the girls team finished seventh.
The girls softball team will play Friday in the state semifinals, he said.
Aurin also recognized class member Aziza Ayoub for her accomplishments in track and field. Ayoub is the defending state champion in the 800-meter run and will anchor the 4×800 meter relay team this weekend in the OHSAA Division II state championships.
Academic recognition went to class salutatorians Daniel Ciuca and Sadie Rumer.
Valedictorians Shelby Cornelius, Ben Grywalski, Lilly Hess, Troy Schleich and Matt Snyder provided brief remarks. Valedictorian Andrey Demchuk was absent from Sunday’s ceremony.
Hess’ comments proved especially touching as she acknowledged a classmate who committed suicide several years ago. She said the tragedy taught her to “live for something…for someone.”
Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Madison Press.