Numerous members of the Miami Trace family came together Friday evening to hold the 60th-annual commencement ceremony in honor of nearly 210 graduates in the Class of 2022.
The ceremony was moved from the football stadium to the Miami Trace High School (MTHS) gymnasium due to expected high winds. Students were given eight tickets for guests, while those without tickets could view a livestream of the ceremony in additional viewing areas.
Speakers for the evening included Miami Trace Superintendent Kim Pittser, MTHS Principal Bryan Sheets, 2022 class salutatorian Emma Seyfang, 2022 class valedictorian Hidy Kirkpatrick, 2022 class valedictorian Kandice Mathews, and 2022 class president and valedictorian Emily Moser.
The MT band provided the ceremonial music such as the Prelude and the National Anthem.
The first student to speak was salutatorian Emma Seyfang. Seyfang is the daughter of Derek and Heather Seyfang. She plans to attend Ohio University where she will major in business and music.
In her speech, Seyfang advised her class to “embrace where you are.”
“I am reminded today of every senior before me that urged me to always cherish these times because time moves fast,” said Seyfang.
She further explained, “Of course I have had times when I wished time would just hurry up, but now I wholeheartedly regret ever thinking that, because I’m reminded of things that we will never get to do again with our peers. Like warming up to play a final sports match, preparing for your final band or choir concert, or even just being in class with people you have been with since elementary school. If I’ve learned anything from these thoughts, it would be to live in the moment. Enjoy where you are right now — really be in it! Be present.”
Seyfang also brought up two other pieces of advice — “surround yourself with people who bring you up” and, “no matter what obstacles life throws at you, you must keep looking forward and moving forward.”
“It takes a village. I know we’ve all heard that saying many times before, but I truly wouldn’t be who I am today without my incredible friends, my inspiring teachers, and my supportive family,” said Seyfang.
The next to speak was valedictorian Hidy Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick is the daughter of Brent and Sarah Kirkpatrick. She plans to attend the University of Alabama where she will major in fashion design and dance.
Kirkpatrick left her fellow graduates with a challenge: “Over the past few weeks, we’ve been saying a lot of goodbyes. Whether that is goodbye to your favorite sport, your favorite teacher, or favorite organization, it seems that ‘goodbye’ has been one of the most common words we’ve been using. Making it seem like a never-ending cycle.
“Some goodbyes will be easy and others are going to be really hard; however, I think we can all agree that we can easily say goodbye to reciting the prologue of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or remembering chemical equations for chemistry class. But, pretty soon, we’re going to have to make one of the hardest goodbyes yet, and that is to this school, our best friends, and our family as we leave to go do bigger and better things.
“So, instead of saying goodbye right now, why don’t we say something a little less scary and daunting? Something that doesn’t make us feel as if the world is crashing down on us. Instead of me standing here saying goodbye to all of you, let’s say ‘hello.’ Hello to a new chapter of our lives, hello to new friends and experiences, and hello to the best version of yourself.”
Following Kirkpatrick’s challenge, valedictorian Kandice Mathews spoke, sharing her favorite quotes from movies and Miami Trace educators.
Mathews is the daughter of Joe and Tammy Mathews. Kandice plans to attend Butler University where she will be a part of the Dual Engineering Degree Program which includes biomedical engineering partnered with art and design.
The first of three movie quotes Mathews shared was from “The Shawshank Redemption” — “Remember Red: hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”
“Your attitude and perspective on the world around you will shape your experiences. It can hold you back, or it can allow you to flourish and become the best version of yourself. A positive outlook is one of the greatest things you can have. So hold on and keep it alive. Miracles do happen, but only if you believe they do,” said Mathews.
The second of the three movie quotes was from “The Great Gatsby” — “‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’”
“It’s human nature to judge and evaluate others, and I feel like it has gotten worse over the past couple of years. Constructive criticism can be good for people, but it won’t be if there is any sort of malicious intent behind the words you say. What you say matters, so keep in mind the challenges other people may have to face. Show people grace and have humility and don’t judge them before you get the chance to know them better,” said Mathews.
The third and final movie quote was from “The Outsiders” — “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.”
“A lot of negativity is publicized, and it seems that a lot of people focus on the bad now-a-days. But please stay gold. Be a good person at heart and spread kindness throughout this world because, let’s be honest, it needs it,” said Mathews.
Mathews then shared some laughs with her fellow graduates over quotes from their teachers that she said should be put into movies.
The final student speaker was valedictorian and class president Emily Moser. Moser is the daughter of Joe and Tina Moser. She plans to attend the Ohio State University where she will major in biology.
Moser’s speech centered around, “living life without a wasted heartbeat.”
A quote that has served as great inspiration to Moser was said by Neil Armstrong: “I believe that every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.”
Moser explained, “to me, living a life without wasting a single heartbeat means living a life with purpose and finding your reasoning behind it.
“It’s easy to have a goal and give up after mere days of pursuing it, or to aimlessly and endlessly chase a dream, but to truly want something, to find something you are truly passionate about, and finding the reason for why you’re doing so good — that is what makes the difference. To know your ‘why.’
“The ‘why’ you get up at 5 a.m. to go on that early morning run. The ‘why’ you are actively pursuing the career that you love. The ‘why’ you chose to devote four years of your life to classes at Miami Trace High School. The ‘why’ you choose to keep coming back… to keep lifting yourself up when life throws you down… to keep pushing yourself even in times of adversity.”
Following the student speakers, Class of 2022 graduates were recognized for receiving honor diplomas, going into the armed forces, having perfect attendance throughout high school (three students), and receiving scholarships and awards announced by Ryan Davis and Meagan Strahler.
Prior to students receiving their diplomas, Pittser spoke to the graduates: “You endured being in education amidst the challenges during and following a pandemic. You turned these challenges into opportunities. Opportunities of growth. You are well on your way to fulfill your purpose and your potential. Behind you – all your memories, before you – all your dreams, around you – all who love you, and within you is all you need.
“Ladies and gentleman, by the powers vested in me by the Miami Trace Board of Education and the great state of Ohio, it is with honor that I present to you the Miami Trace High School graduating class of 2022.”
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.