Miami Trace High School held its 59th annual commencement ceremony on Friday evening to honor the class of 2021.
With an uncertain year behind them due to COVID-19, the administration and staff of Miami Trace High School worked to bring a full graduation to the class of 2021. Thanks to great weather, the district was able to hold graduation outside.
Starting off the ceremony, Miami Trace High School Principal Bryan Sheets thanked all of those in attendance and introduced various individuals who helped to make the graduation ceremony possible. From the numerous parents and family members of the graduates to the Miami Trace Board of Election, Sheets thanked all of them for their work.
Also speaking to the crowd on Friday were the salutatorian, valedictorians and the 2021 class president.
First to speak was Makayla Lingerfelt, salutatorian. Lingerfelt started by thanking everyone involved for bringing them a normal graduation, especially considering the difficult year that preceded it and talked about her nerves leaving high school.
“Thank you all for joining us in celebrating our graduates tonight,” Lingerfelt said. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m nervous to take on this new world. In the past month alone, I’ve faced so many changes — doors opening and closing — and it’s scary just how fast things can change. Luckily, that doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can present new opportunities for us that may shape the lives we have ahead of us. Yes, I’m sure we will miss not having bills or responsibilities, and we’ll miss being around our friends on a daily basis. We’ll miss the good qualities of childhood we looked forward to — for example, I’ll miss having lunch with my best friend, Friday night football games and prom. But the good part is this — we have so much more waiting for us past today.”
Next was the first valedictorian to speak, Siara Eggleton. Eggleton was quick to point out what the class has already accomplished and shared the lessons she has felt the class has learned — lessons that go deeper than math and English.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say that this has been an absolute wild ride, especially in the past two years,” Eggleton said. “We’ve conquered finals, state testing, and a global pandemic. Well almost. And now, after this day, we’ve conquered high school. So…what now? We know what happens in the short term. College, trade school, career. We’ve been told that these are the paths to success and happiness. We’ve been taught how to write essays, solve seemingly-pointless math problems, and avoid accidentally catching the lab on fire. But within these surface lessons, we’ve caught on to the deeper meanings, such as the importance of communication, perseverance and being able to work with new people. These are the things we will hold on to for the rest of our lives.”
Olivia Fliehman was the next valedictorian to speak. She also took time to thank her parents, teachers and coaches for the support they gave her over the years, but also talked about lessons the class should take with them into the world.
“When I was trying to come up with what I wanted to say to you all, I had a lot of trouble finding inspiration,” Fliehman said. “Not only am I being given my biggest audience this far in my life to speak in front of, which meant I better say something pretty good, but I was also only going to be given about three minutes to say everything that needed to be said. And that was a lot of pressure for a few minutes. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wasn’t the one that was most qualified to stand here and try and tell us all how to live our lives because, quite frankly, I don’t know much more about life than any one of you sitting in front of me. I also realized that so many things will be forgotten over the next few years, and I don’t want any of us to leave today and forget some of the most important things we’ve learned in high school. And I’m not talking about what date what war started and what the unit circle does or how to conjugate ‘er’ verbs, I’m talking about the lessons we’ve all been lucky enough to have learned from the teachers and staff we see and talk to every single day.”
The final valedictorian to speak was Kaylie Lott. Lott also talked about the lessons from her teachers and about how academics are not the meaning of life, but that connections and love are the important lessons to remember.
“When I made it to the end of this year, and was announced to be one of the valedictorians of my class, I was ecstatic, beyond excited that all my years of hard work and sacrifice had paid off,” Lott said. “That energy lasted for all of 15 seconds. But, on the 16th second, it was over. I am not sure what I thought would happen, a cannon of confetti to rain down or a parade in my honor, or more realistically, that all my problems and shortcomings would disappear because of this astonishing accomplishment. But none of that happened. I was told all of my life that if I did well in school, my college options would be endless. I began obsessing over my academics. I missed out on social gatherings, sweet memories in the classroom and friendships not pursued because I was too busy working on assignments and worrying about my grades. So here is the lesson. Graduate with the knowledge that academics are not the meaning of life, connections and love are the lessons we must embrace. Focus on your healthy relationships. Nothing is more important. Not your college, not your career, not your wealth and not your success. Relationships are where we get to make a forever mark on someone’s life. Our lives would not be meaningful without each other.”
Finally, the class president, Sam Braden, spoke to the class of 2021. He talked about the challenge the class has overcome in the last year and challenged them to change the world.
“When I sat down to draft my speech, I intended to give the senior class some prolific, sage advice about the contents of our future so I could sound as smart as the salutatorian and valedictorians that spoke before me. However, I am not that smart or I would not be stuck speaking last,” Braden said. “I sat at my laptop for hours trying to produce a single droplet of guidance but I think the issue with that is: I’m still too young. I am far too young to go offering life lessons because I am clearly still working that out myself. So instead of giving you the solution, I challenge you to find the answer. I challenge you to take what you have learned in your time at Miami Trace and go out with a passion to change the world, and I challenge you to break away from the small, suburban expectations and ideas of life to live your life — not by the words of others — but in a way that makes you feel the happiest.”
Following the reading of scholarships — which included the various students receiving thousands of dollars from locals who wanted to support the class — each student was given their diploma as loved ones looked on from the stands.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 463-9684 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.