Miami Trace High School held its commencement ceremony on Sunday for the class of 2018 surrounded by friends and family.
The ceremony in the gymnasium began with a brief welcome by principal Rob Enochs and senior choir members performing for the crowd. The top of the class, one salutatorian and five valedictorians. spoke during the ceremony on a variety of topics.
Salutatorian Victoria Fliehman inquired to the class of 2018 — with its 162 members — as to why they are so special.
“Like David McCullough (an English teacher and author) said, ‘Even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion, that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.’ So what makes us special?” Fliehman said. “So no, not I nor Mr. Enochs nor anyone else can stand up here and truthfully tell you that you are special. Because it is not up to anyone else, it is up to you. And with this in mind I challenge each and every one of us to go out and live our lives in a way that whatever we are doing — no matter how seemingly great or small — has value and is making a positive impact on the world around us. Taking pride in everything that we do, whether it be mopping a floor or flying to the moon. Do this so that when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we can know that we are doing our small part to make the world a better place. We are doing something special.”
Dyamin Baker, the first of the valedictorians to speak, encouraged her classmates to find their goals and reach them.
“The song ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ contains lyrics that we should all live by,” Baker said. “The lyric goes, ‘Don’t you know that there ain’t no mountain high enough. Ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough, to keep me from getting to you, baby.’ Whatever your ‘baby’ may be, it is your goal. There my be obstacles on the way, but you can overcome them to reach that goal. Throughout life we need to show perseverance because the greater the obstacle, the greater the glory is in overcoming it. If we want the next chapters of our lives to be successful, that is what we must do. Graduating means going into the real world and facing many different obstacles that we have never faced before. This also means that we will be given many difference chances and opportunities. We cannot be afraid to take these chances or make use of these opportunities.”
Valedictorian Jordan Bernard took to the podium next and talked about this being the time to try new things.
“Some people might think that we are who we are meant to be now, that when we move away we are not going to change that much because hey, we’re basically adults. But we’re not who we are truly are yet,” Bernard said. “That’s what this next chapter is for. It’s a time to discover new things, a time to be someone we’ve always wanted to be. We no longer have to try and be someone who others always wanted to be. We no longer have to try and be someone who others always wanted us to be. That’s the beauty of growing up and moving out, we get a fresh start. We can change who we are and become someone we’re proud of. Whoever that might be. And if we find out that we don’t like who we’ve become, we can change. Because that’s what this time in our life is for, mistakes.”
The next valedictorian to speak was Tanner Bryant, who asked the crowd to shine a light for the seniors.
“John 1:5 holds true: the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it,” Bryant said. “Without the dark seasons of life we wouldn’t notice the light. We wouldn’t notice all of those in our lives who are sources of our hope every single day. At this time I’m going to do something a little different. I would like everyone except the graduates to get out their cell phone. When I list a category you fall under please turn your flashlight on, hold it in the air, and please leave it on for the remainder of my speech. Shine a light if you are the parent or guardian of a graduate. Shine a light if you are a family member or friend of a graduate. Shine a light if you are a teacher or administrator that played a role in the life of a graduate. Lastly, shine a light if you love and care about the future success of a graduate. Now, classmates take a second to look around at all the lights. In times of uncertainty and in times of doubt, just look up and know you are loved.”
Valedictorian Jillian Sollars spoke about love and to remember it is there for the graduates always.
“Class of 2018, if there is one thing I have learned in high school, it is to hold on tight to the people you love,” Sollars said. “Sure, straight A’s, perfect attendance and varsity letters are great and all, but a year from now you will have moved on from all of that and probably rarely reminisce on it. But these people around you, your friends, your teachers, your role models, your family or whoever they may be — the ones that have shaped you into the person you are right now — you will never move on from those people. You can move across the street or across the world but either way, those people will follow you. They are a part of you now and you are a part of them. So finally, I leave you with a challenge — as you leave here today diploma in hand, think not just of your own accomplishment, but of each and every one of the people who helped you reach this point and thank them.”
Finally, valedictorian and senior class president Dylan Page spoke about the sacrifices and efforts of all parents, teachers and peers to help them get to where they are today. He also took a moment to honor Joshua White, a member of the class of 2018 who passed last year.
“Now I know that you think your parents are happy for your achievements today, which they are, but we also need to acknowledge all of the sacrifices they’ve made for us over the years. They’ve attended our sporting events from t-ball when we played with the dandelions and dirt in the outfield, to middle school band as we tried to master ‘Hot Cross Buns,’ all the way up to senior nights for our different activities. They’ve woken up early and stayed up late for us to make sure our science projects were done and our uniforms were clean. Our parents have done so much for us, and now that our relationship with them is changing, I’d just like to say thank you to all of the parents in the audience who have helped us get to this point. Plus, with our absence, there’s nothing like getting a new storage room in the house without building an addition. Furthermore, to all of the teachers who are wondering when I’m going to wrap this up, we also appreciate everything you’ve done for us, and we’re thankful for all of the Maxwell House, Folgers and Keurig cups that made our education possible.”
Following the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches, Enochs announced the students who were awarded with an honors diploma. In order to receive the honors diploma, a student must complete a college preparatory curriculum that includes four units of English, math, science and social studies; three units of foreign language; one unit of fine arts; have at least a 3.5 grade point average and a high level of achievement on selected standardized tests.
This year 23 students received this honor including: Dyamin Baker, Jordan Bernard, Tanner Bryant, Cameron Carter, Matthew Fender, Victoria Fliehman, Brittany Fraysier, Adam Ginn, Alyssa Griggs, Gavin Haines, Erica Marshall, Dylan Page, Taylor Perkins, Abbygail Pitstick, Ragan Powers, Hannah Rose, Alexandria Smith, Jillian Sollars, Samuel Steinhoff, Cassidy Tolliver, Cassandra VanDyke, Quinton Waits and Jacklynn Wisecup.
Additionally, one senior received a career-technical honors diploma. In addition to achieving the same core, GPA and assessment requirements as the honors diploma, a student must also meet strenuous requirements in their career technical field as well. Cassidy Maynard was honored during the ceremony for achieving this feat.
Following the Alma Mater and recessional, the halls of Miami Trace High School were filled with many congratulations as families were reunited with their graduates.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy