“Thirteen years. Two thousand, seventy-five days. One million, ninety-two thousand minutes. The books we have read, or in some cases didn’t read, the practices we have attended, the math problems we solved, or at least attempted to solve, and the laughs we have shared….all lead us to this exact moment…Here we are.” ~Roma Patel, 2016 Washington High School graduate.
The 140th commencement ceremony for Washington High School was held on Sunday afternoon in the gymnasium. The ceremony began with the processional, National Anthem and the high school Alma Mater performed by the band. Cammi Borden directed the band and Wendy Hawk and Hailey Hartshorn conducted the class of 2016 during the Alma Mater, a time-honored tradition of students leading students.
After an invocation and a few words from Hawk, assistant principal Jon Hemmelgarn introduced the Washington City Schools Board of Education and other guests present for the ceremony. The class president, Brooklyn Wilson, shared a few comments followed by superintendent Matthew McCorkle. Several seniors were recognized as being members of the Academy of Scholars, a Washington City Schools award given to students who demonstrate academic excellence. Seven seniors were also honored for obtaining the award all seven years possible, beginning in the sixth grade and finishing through their senior year with high grades.
The speaker, chosen by the class of 2016, was Shane Donnenwirth, a teacher at the high school. He began his speech saying that he, now an adult, has grown a love for mornings.
“Henry David Thoreau says that it has something to do with the morning air and he longs that we could bottle up some and sell it in shops,” said Donnenwirth. “And he is right, there is something more pure in the morning air. One feels that he is breathing in hope, possibility and newness. Morning is opportunity, morning is redemption. Morning is the dawn of potential. Yes, I can think of no greater greeting than ‘Good Morning.’ Keep your afternoons and evenings. Let others stay in the dark if they must. The class of 2016 must wake and together bathe in the splendor of perpetual morning.”
Special music was performed by the symphonic choir seniors as a gift to the class. Two students, Patel and Alyvia Kreps, addressed the 2016 graduates. For Kreps, she wanted to take the time to share with the class a final speech, her five most important steps to an amazing life. Finding the opportunities in life and taking them, not to sweat the small stuff, not allowing others to come to you without leaving better and happier, and always choosing faith when looking forward, were among the top of the list.
“And finally. My number one step to an amazing life,” Kreps said. “Always be thankful, even for the little things. We all have so much to be thankful for. Snow days for when you just want to lay around and watch Netflix. Finding that extra long bonus fries at the bottom of the bag. Having the door held open for you…those little moments when you feel most infinite.”
The class was presented by principal Tracy Rose with members of the board of education presenting diplomas to each student. After another time-honored tradition: the switching of the tassel to signify this class is now alumni, the students came together to throw their hats. The seniors then departed from the gym and took their first steps as graduated adults, ready to take each step after.