Preble Shawnee High sent 111 students off into their futures on Friday, May 23, with commencement exercises held at Princeton Pike Church of God in Hamilton.
“Graduation is a time for congratulations and for a feeling of a sense of accomplishment for those members of the Class of 2014 who are receiving diplomas this evening,” Principal Dianna Whitis said. “These ceremonies have been highly anticipated for these young people seated before us. There have been both struggles and rewards in the educational lives of tonight’s perspective graduates. It has been with great excitement that we have been preparing for this day.”
Whitis recognized three groups of people who were special to the graduating class. They included the parents, the grandparents, as well as the faculty and staff who have worked with the students during their educational careers.
“Members of the Class of 2014, we are proud of each one of you and we congratulate you for your accomplishments. You have in front of you your whole life. How successful it is will depend largely upon what you put into it and the choices you make from this point forward. We wish you the very best in the years to come,” Whitis added.
Class speaker John Deaton spoke of 2014 as a “lively” group.
“As a collective class, I would call us the liveliest in the building,” Deaton said. “Not a day goes by without laughter and endless conversation. We are also some of the most intelligent students to walk these halls. I can’t remember many other classes with a four or five-way race for valedictorian or where almost every locker is adorned with three or more honor roll awards. These are all wonderful attributes of the Class of 2014, however, my point today is not to reminisce on the past or even bask on the glory of the present. My goal today is to talk about the future where everyone will go from here.
“Between the help of teachers, administrators, coaches or most notably, other students, I would assert that we have all learned a valuable life lesson from someone at Shawnee. These life lessons are integral to our futures no matter where we go or what we do.
“And our futures, through what we have learned here at Preble Shawnee, I believe that we will all have more than enough knowledge and happiness to share with our fellow residents of the ‘Great Planet Earth.’
“I know this might not be the normal graduation speech. I know I didn’t dwell on all the great times we have had in the past together as a class. However, no matter how pleasant those memories may be, they are a thing of the past. Graduation is about finishing something, extinguishing the fire and igniting a new one from the embers of before.
“Life is going to be a lot more difficult from this point forward. You’re going to face things more pressing and problems that seem bigger than you can handle. Just know that no matter how big these issues may seem when the knowledge and lessons you’ve learned throughout high school you can overcome them. From this day on you are no longer required to do anything other than pay taxes and it’s up to you to make a lasting impact on the world. I truly believe every single of you can do just that,” Deaton told his fellow graduates.
Deaton’s co-valedictorian Jordan Lovely, said she ” thought long and hard about what direction I wanted to go with in this speech. I thought about trying to be inspirational, serious and even funny. I’m glad I didn’t go in that route.
“Today, I stand up here not give all the clichés about ‘today is the first day of the rest of our lives.’ Rather, instead, I decided to make this speech about what we have coming and what the importance of our lives here at Preble Shawnee has made and will continue to be.
“I think most of my classmates can remember the first day of high school four short years ago. Before this week I would have said it seemed like a lifetime ago. But now, I can really say I believe it went by fairly quickly. We started high school as scared tiny freshman afraid of running into upper classmen in the halls, struggling with locker combinations and worrying about being late to class. No we are the scary seniors that think we are invincible,” Lovely said.
She continued, “We went to high school in a small town that was really able to give us a tight-knit community feel. I can honestly say I know who everyone in my graduating class is. I believe that we have had a rare and special opportunity. Not all schools are able to have the type of bonds with classmates and teachers like we have had. I am personally so happy that I was able to spend my high school career at Preble Shawnee and hope my classmates are as well.
“High school has been great to me as I’m sure as it has to others. But even if it hadn’t been I think that everyone can agree they have learned something. It might not have been something taught as a subject in school, but maybe more of a life-lesson.
“Though it may have felt like this time was never going to arrive, it has. It is now our time to move on in the world. It doesn’t matter if you are ready for it to happen or not — it is time.”
“If I was to give one piece of advice, it would be to treasure this moment today, take it all in, because this is what songs are written about. This is the youth you can never get back, the friendships and memories that will last a lifetime,” Lovely closed.
The Shawnee Class of 2014’s third co-valedictorian, Eric Deaton told his classmates “one chapter of our lives has ended and another is about to begin.”
“High school is just another stepping stone that we have to pass by on our way to success,” he said. “Our parents see us as children who are dependent on them. Our teachers see us as their students who came to them looking for answers. The fact of the matter is, we all are becoming more and more independent each day. I look amongst us, and I see a bright future for all of us. Setting goals and dreams are perhaps one of the important steps to achieving success,” Eric Deaton said.
Superintendent Dave Ulrich told those in attendance, “A high school diploma is a significant beginning to a 21st Century education. But it is only a beginning. Continuous learning, both formally and informally, is another necessary component of your education.”
All totaled, Preble Shawnee’s graduates earned scholarships of approximately $642,678.