A welcome breeze sent balloons dancing, tossed graduates’ tassels and cooled the crowd of parents, relatives and friends gathered Friday night for the Connell High School graduation.
The 120 members of the class of 2012 strode onto Esser Field at precisely 7 p.m., purple robes swirling around their legs, gold roses raised high in salute.
Minutes later, senior and honor student Kathryn Stredwick began the ceremonies with a stirring a cappella rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Graduations are all about speeches and the class of 2012 had a lot to say.
Taking risks, pursuing your dreams and setting goals were common themes.
And they all cropped up in the speeches given by the five valedictorians and Salutatorian Sharlisa Davidson.
Even the speaker chosen by the class, English teacher Len Hershman, spoke of changes.
One of change, he said, “is parents and other adults will treat you as adults and expect you to get a job, go to college, or both.”
That brought a laugh from the crowd before he urged them to embrace change because “it gives you the ability to be the star attraction in the unfolding of your life story.”
Co-valedictorian Megan Booker agreed, asking her classmates to “think of every new beginning as your big opportunity to find success.”
Setting goals and working towards them without worrying about failure was the focus of Co-valedictorian Michaela Easterday’s speech.
“Because if you don’t go after what you want, you will never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you are always in the same place,” Easterday said.
And Co-valedictorian Rachael Dart urged her classmates to take risks.
“Many of the greatest events that happen in life come because we are willing to risk something to achieve it. Dear fellow graduates, don’t be afraid to take risks to achieve your dreams, and don’t give up when things don’t go according to plan,” Dart said.
But Co-Valedictorian Elaine Pierson had some unusual advice. She told them to “choose to live life the fun way.”
“The fun way is doing what your love, always. Don’t ever give up on something or back down because others tell you to. The fun way is being a good person. It’s living your life in the way that makes those you love proud and gives you a feeling of contentment,” Pierson said.
All good words for a class whose motto is, “Cherish yesterday, live for today, and reach for tomorrow.
And it seems they’re doing just that.
Connell’s class of 2012 includes 24 National Honor Society members, 11 National Art Honor students and seven who were in Running Start. In all, they earned $570,300 in scholarships.