In the hallways and classrooms at London High School Sunday afternoon, Zoe Webster and 96 fellow seniors nervously prepared their red and white caps and gowns as 2 p.m. approached.
“I am ready for this, but yes, I am nervous,” Webster said in the hallway filled with seniors helping each other prepare and taking photos of each other. “I am looking forward to it being over.”
She wasn’t alone.
“I’m a little nervous,” said senior Brandon Hardin. He said he will miss “hanging out with all my friends” and his woodworking class. Nearby, Monica Orr said she wasn’t nervous, but “I am really excited. I’m looking forward to this.”
Moments later, the 97 seniors walked single file into the packed London High School gymnasium for the annual Commencement for the London High School Class of 2017.
“Classmates — do not be afraid of failure. In fact, more can be learned from failure than success. All of you should follow the path of entrepreneurs and leave your comfort zone, do not be afraid of new challenges. I encourage you all to not be afraid of what is to come, but to welcome it with open arms. Embrace this new beginning,” said Class President Grant Brooks in his remarks to fellow graduates after receiving their diplomas.
He urged the graduates to take risks.
“As we look toward the future, and learn from the past, we must remember where we came from. Even though we are starting a new chapter it does not mean we must abandon our past. We must remember the good times and stay true to who you are. We must take it upon ourselves to chart our own path. Rather than take the path of least resistance, take risks and find what you are truly passionate about. Actor Alan Alda once said: ‘You have to leave the city of your comfort and into the wilderness of your intuition,’” Brooks said.
He said that after graduation, they will all, “Go our own separate ways. We will face challenges and obstacles. Keep your head high and don’t be afraid of failure, because it is your response to failure that ultimately will define you. Learn from these experiences and apply them to the next obstacle you face. Every one of us has the potential to be a difference maker. Through perseverance, hard work and courage anything can be accomplished. As we stand here today take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you will go,” he said.
Earlier, the 2019 Valedictorian, Salutatorian and top 20 students were announced.
The 2017 Valedictorian, the senior with the highest points over the last four years was Austin Wilt, and the Salutatorian was Andrew Brand. The announcements were made by Class Secretary Kylie Mathews. Supt. Dr. Lou Kramer also announced Wilt as the Purcell Scholarship winner for 2017.
Dr. Kramer recognized the board members, retirees, Tolles Career & Technical Center.
Principal Chad Eisler recognized the seniors who are entering the military, who stood to a loud and appreciative applause. He also asked those in the audience in active duty military or reserve or retirees to stand, also to loud applause.
He then introduced the top 20 students: Kylie Matthews, Makayla Sollars, Christina Granger, Corey Jones, Melanie Green, Taylor Booghier, Garrett King, Destiny Buchanan, Mikayla Jameson, Aaron Gates, Howard Meade, Charles Meade, Jessica Thompson, Joanne Davis, McLaren Rogerson, Nathaniel Adkins, Grant Brooks, Clayton Arvin, Andrew Brand, and Austin Wilt.
London Board President Darryl Brown, in presenting the diplomas to the graduating seniors, said, “Getting here was hard work. Be sure to take time today to thank your loved ones, your family, who helped you accomplish this great deed. I am a firm believer that true success in life is not measured by overcoming just the obstacles you face, but by helping others overcome their obstacles, as well. I think you as individuals have demonstrated that time and time again. You will always be a part of London City Schools, and London City Schools will always be a part of you,” he said to the Class of 2017.
Valedictorian Wilt also announced the class gift. He said the class is presenting four metal picnic tables to be placed in the school’s courtyard.
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