Washington Court House High School graduated approximately 154 seniors on Sunday during the 142nd commencement ceremony.
Friends and family gathered over the weekend to celebrate the Washington High School class of 2018 as they walked across the stage at the high school gymnasium. During the ceremony, which began at 4:30 p.m., Matt Stanley — director of the Washington High School Band — led the event with the National Anthem, and Abigail Sever and Maria Pickerill directed the band and choir for the Alma Mater. Pickerill led the audience in an invocation and reading before Jon Creamer, assistant principal, introduced various members of the Washington Court House City Schools staff. Following class president Jazmin Cook’s address to the class, high school principal Tracy Rose recognized students who were being accepted into the Academy of Scholars.
Eight students were honored and allowed to speak during graduation after earning “Honored With Distinction” status. Beginning in 2016, Washington High School started the practice of honoring any student who meets the established criteria as students who achieve Honors With Distinction. The criteria are: earning an Honors Diploma from the State of Ohio, an ACT score of at least 27, earning at least 29 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 career.
The first senior to speak was Jaelyn Mason. Mason, the daughter of Jessica and Louis Reid and Jason Mason, plans on attending Ohio Dominican University where she will major in biology.
“We would like to open by thanking everyone for taking their time to join us as we take a huge step towards our futures and for so graciously sitting through this whole ceremony,” Mason said. “We would also like to thank you all for the love and support you have given to us throughout the years as we grew into the people we are today. To our class: congratulations! We made it. Although we have all taken different paths in our lives, all of those paths have led to this day. And despite how we got here, this is an accomplishment for all of us to be proud of.”
Next to speak was Keiya Satoh, son of Ikuo and Rumiko Satoh, who spoke about diversity. He plans on attending the Ohio State University where he will major in environmental engineering.
“Every one of us is diverse in our own ways,” Satoh said. “No two people have experienced the same life, and we should cherish that, because diversity will play a major role in our future. We should embrace it now and learn to love our uniqueness so that we can use it as an advantage, not to be taken advantage of. I admit, as an ethnic minority, I was never comfortable with who I am and where I’ve come from. I always wanted to be like everyone else; I wanted to be normal, but then I realized that is just impossible. I can never be like everyone else, because no one should be like everyone else. My history and culture is what makes me…me. The world values individuality, so let’s take pride in where we’ve come from, what we’ve experienced and most importantly where we are going. So let’s value, not only ourselves, but others as well, for we are equally unique.”
Anthony Kuenzli, son of of Christy and DJ Jenkins and Jim Kuenzli, plans on attending the Ohio State University where he will major in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. He gave some advice to the seniors, including to be open-minded and kind.
“Fellow graduates, we are gathered here today in great pomp and circumstance for what, though it deeply saddens me, may be out last meeting all together as a class,” Kuenzli said. “Therefore as a farewell I would like to offer a few words of advice from this stage that will hopefully help you in the next, vastly different stage of your life. Keep an open-mind, your views and beliefs will be challenged throughout your life and that is okay. Be open to new ideas and perspectives other than your own. Life is much more pleasant when you aren’t paranoid that others who are different are always out to get you. We all are taking different pathways from this point and those of you that are taking less common routes are doing all of us a great kindness by fulfilling equally, if not more important, roles in our society. That brings me to my next piece of advice: be kind to all others. No one person has more value as a human being than another, and we are all deserving of respect and dignity. Yes, people have their faults and make mistakes, but that is simply no reason to be rude or mean to them.”
Next up was Spencer Minyo, son of Buck and Debbie Minyo, who is planning on attending Miami University where he will major in biochemistry and pre-medicine.
“Henry David Thoreau ends Walden with an epic and advice-packed conclusion, appropriately titled, ‘Conclusion,’” Minyo said. “In the first lines Thoreau tells us to ‘Thank heaven, here is not all the world.’ This is not a complaint, but rather a comment of thankfulness. In conclusion, Thoreau urges us to go out and explore the big beautiful world we live in; not because we despise the place in which we live, but because each nook and cranny of the earth has something unique and insightful to offer every one of you, if you are willing to go and find it. Perhaps more importantly, each of you has a nugget of insight you can carry to the rest of the world. You have the power to use your unique knowledge and understanding to make a difference in the world. Thus, class of 2018, as you move on to the next chapter of your lives, I urge each of you to find your passion. If you can find your passion you will serve your fellow man and ultimately gain the fullest understanding of the human existence.”
The fifth in line to speak was Jonathon Luebbe, son of Steve and Jenny Luebbe. He plans on attending the University of Cincinnati where he will major in aerospace engineering and talked about what makes his class different from the other graduating classes of Washington High School.
“What makes our slice of history any more special or unique?” Luebbe said. “I believe there is one facet of this class that sets us apart from most all those who have come before us, and that works to set a higher standard for those that will come after us. My favorite class here at the high school was AP language and composition, a course that dealt with the complexities of language, rhetoric and how they have perpetual influence on our lives. The course was taught by Mr. Frederick, a man many of you met by means of one of his other challenging English classes. The years of 2016 and 2017 saw heartbreaking loss for Mr. Frederick and his family as both of his parents passed away in this time. At the conclusion of the school year and this course, Mr Frederick reflected on our time together and offered his thanks to my classmates and I. Eighth period acted as an outlet, a getaway for him. During that time, nothing outside our learning seemed to matter. It was a time for him, my classmates and I to be wholly enveloped in the curiosity and love of language. This is what makes this group of people before me special. Class, in whatever you have done, you have put your whole self in. You are passionate about what you do and that attitude is impossible to ignore. You have raised the standard in Washington High School for what it means to be a leader, a scholar, a friend.”
Cody Riley, son of Cheri and Chad Riley, plans on attending the Ohio State University where he will major in electrical engineering. He spoke about making friends, being the inexperienced “underdogs” of the world again and how important it is to appreciate those older and wiser who take a chance.
“For the rest of our lives we will be forced to interact with people we don’t know or don’t particularly like. This is something our classes have not explicitly prepared us for, but I believe being around this group of classmates and underclassman has,” Riley said. “Throughout my high school experience I have been shocked to find the friendships I ended up forming by just interacting with others and being myself. Sure some of those freshman may be annoying and it might be cool to laugh at their awkwardness, but remember we were all there and you might be surprised at how similar these kids are. This also applies to our future endeavors. In college and in the job market we once again become the inexperienced and underdogs of the world, so I feel it is most important to appreciate the people older and wiser who give you a chance and make sure you return that favor to the next generation. In parting, my words to you are keep finding friends and never be afraid to reach out to others, for you don’t know what is going on in their lives and you may offer guidance and insight that they need.”
The next to speak was Maxim Schroeder, son of Thomas and Jessica Schroeder, who spoke about opportunities and choices. He plans on attending the Ohio State University where he will major in microbiology.
“When I look around this room I see a group of people who have all reached the same common goal of graduation,” Schroeder said. “While we have all reached this grand achievement, our paths to it have been different. What has set us apart are the things that we have chosen to do. All of us have participated in different clubs and sports, and had unique experiences in our jobs and classes. These choices that we make are what shape us, and have brought each of us to the seats that we are sitting in today. This is one of the things that hasn’t been taught to us by our teachers, but will continue with us to college. Many of us will have opportunities to join clubs, sports, conduct research and even study abroad at college. Those who are going down different roads will be faced with choices in their work space. What we decide to do when we are presented with an opportunity are what make our lives different and shape our future. So don’t be afraid when the choice comes your way, and continue to take opportunities that you are presented with, as they will mold you in ways that you might not know at the time.
Finally, Joshua Trimmer, son of Darcy and Nyleah Trimmer, has an appointment with the United States Military Academy at West Point where he will major in kinesiology. He read a poem and reflected on his time at high school.
“From the hallowed halls of Sunnyside, single-file we would stride.
Our journey began not expecting much, learning our alphabet, numbers and such.
From Velcro shoes, to tying laces, we soon moved on, to different places.
Elementary set us on separate paths, only to come back together at last.
As we progressed through math facts and writing, side-by-side, learning was inviting.
As our minds did shape and mold, from snaps to tweets, our stories told I salute you all, my classmates, my friends.
From the crayon to the pen we shall not forget, where we have been.”
Following the student speakers, Rose presented the class and each received a diploma from the Washington Court House City Schools Board of Education before tossing their caps in a sea of applause.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy