Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) honored this year’s 139 graduates Friday evening at its 146th commencement ceremony.
The graduation was held in the Washington High School (WHS) gymnasium at 7 p.m. A large crowd of family and friends filled the gym and lobby just outside the gym to take part in the celebration.
The WHS band and choir provided the music for the ceremony. Graduate Luke Rader provided the invocation while WHS Assistant Principal Beth Day gave the introduction.
WHS Principal Tracy Rose was chosen as the class speaker. Rose spoke to the students of their history learning and growing in the local schools.
“Today, you become the first class to graduate from Washington Court House City Schools starting and ending your career in our new and restored buildings, which were completed in 2009,” said Rose. “No matter your current path, you each faced challenges and obstacles and your perseverance has prepared you to take on life. We are all so very proud of you.”
He further said, “congratulations on getting through the easiest part of your life, because I’m here to tell you that life is not easy and it isn’t fair. Don’t give in and don’t ever give up. This is the opportunity to simply face adversity and overcome it.
“Each day… each and every day, you make nearly 35,000 choices. Whether these choices are conscious or subconscious, you have 35,000 opportunities to make your life better or worse. The biggest choice we have each day is the decision to be part of the world’s problem or part of the solution. Be part of the solution.
“These constant decisions create opportunities, but these opportunities will not just come to you, you have to find them. If you want something bad enough, if you truly want it, you have to be willing to sacrifice, take chances, be willing to fail but to change and adapt using that failed attempt to guide you. In failure, we have the opportunity not only to find ourselves but to create ourselves.”
Rose then gave five parting tips to the graduates: don’t play it safe, surround yourself with good people, love what you do, challenge yourself, and change the world.
The class of 2022 president was Mac Miller. Miller spoke of the different plans he and his fellow graduates may have — some have gone to Laurel Oaks, some are going to college, some are entering the workforce — and, regardless of what paths are taken, they will all work out in the end.
“We may go to a small school in a small town in a small county in a relatively mundane state, but I know that none of us here tonight are destined for small and mundane things. In fact, I believe that everyone of us here tonight is capable of anything we can imagine. We just have to believe,” said Miller.
As previously reported, WHS moved from the practice of naming a valedictorian and salutatorian to recognizing Honors With Distinction in 2016. The criteria for earning Honors With Distinction is: earning an Honors Diploma from the State of Ohio, an ACT score of at least 27, earning at least 28 credits, a G.P.A. of no less than 4.0 on a 5.0 scale, and passing at least one weighted class in each core content area throughout their high school careers.
The seven students recognized as Honors with Distinction who spoke were: Haley Brenner, Ryan Elrich, Caroline Frederick, Mary Gerber, Mac Miller, Kishan Patel and Tyler Tackage.
Each student had a particular ideal to speak on in relation to success: optimism, work ethic, resilience, curiosity, discipline, communication and patience.
Kishan Patel spoke on optimism, and how the WHS class of 2022 encouraged one another and kept going strong through everything they faced to get to graduation.
“Despite the fact that this may be the last time many of us ever see each other, do not forget the trials and tribulations we went through to get here, and the optimism that we maintained through them,” said Patel.
Haley Brenner spoke on work ethic.
“It is in the ability to decide what you want and decide what you will do to get it, where true success can be found. Putting in the hard work will outweigh any natural intelligence or talent and bring you to your goal,” said Brenner. “No matter what you choose to do in the future, whether it be vocational school, college, an apprenticeship, or straight into the workforce, your hard work will continue to be a virtue. Your work ethic will mold your life into what you want it to be and lead you to accomplishments like the one earned here today (at graduation).”
Ryan Elrich spoke on resilience.
“Everything starts with a vision. This vision is then expanded on through passion. The hardest part is staying passionate. Passion is kept through resilience, the final step to success,” said Elrich.
Mary Gerber spoke on curiosity.
“One of the most impressive capabilities of the human mind is the ability to generate new ideas; the ability to innovate is only possible through our innate curiosity. Imagine all the great discoveries that have come from asking a question — from the astonishing invention of penicillin to Newton’s theory of gravity. When a musician experiments with a new melody or a sociologist observes a social interaction, they ask ‘why’ and ‘what would happen.’ Their curiosity illuminates the world and points explorers in new directions,” said Gerber.
She asked her fellow graduates, “What do you learn when you ask yourself, ‘why do I believe that’ or ‘why did i do that?’”
Gerber explained, “Self-reflection leads to a better understanding of yourself, perhaps leading to better enjoyment of one’s life. Sometimes your curiosity will lead you to ask questions that yield more questions, more problems or lead to a dead end. But when you investigate that question, no matter the ending to this journey, you have at least learned something by pursuing the question. Curiosity may ask the question, but you must have the courage to pursue and to investigate ideas.”
Tyler Tackage spoke on discipline, commenting that the “most successful people in the world all share a common trait — self discipline.”
Tackage said, “you only live once, and I believe the best part of life is having fun. But do not let the distractions of college and growing up take you off your path. You are going to have to make sacrifices, whether that is staying in on a Saturday night to study or going to bed before 12 because you have a real job the next day. Becoming an adult takes discipline.”
Caroline Frederick spoke on communication.
Frederick said, “Success never occurs in a vacuum, no matter what the self-helpers and self-makers tell you. Whether it’s a good friend, a family member, a teacher, or even a pet, the importance of a strong supporter cannot be understated.”
She further explained, “language allows us to see into the world of others, and allows others to see into our world. It’s easy to forget how little we really know about people we see every day.”
Mac Miller, class president, spoke on patience.
Miller explained, “by choosing patience over impatience, you welcome many more opportunities that simply come to you by waiting. In the 21st century, we are so used to instant and constant dopamine hits that patience is starting to become a lost art.
“Without patience, it is impossible to see anything through. Growing a garden, investing in stocks, studying, or going to the gym are all things that hardly give the instant dopamine hit we are so used to nowadays and require patience to get the results.
“Without patience, these things are only seeds in the dirt, money in an account, words in a textbook, and an hour long sweat session. But with proper patience, these become food on the table, extra money in your pocket, a PhD, and your dream body.”
WCHCS Superintendent Dr. Tom Bailey said during his speech, “Class of 2022… just be good to each other and to yourself. You get one chance to do life. There are absolutely no do-overs. You are part of our Blue Lion family and just know that we are here as you take the next step in your life.”
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.