NEW PARIS — National Trail High School’s 2016 graduating class gathered with faculty and loved ones in the school gym on Friday, May 27, to celebrate the end of their high school careers. A senior class of about 60 students shared a combined $2.1 million in scholarship earnings.
Principal Robert Fischer led the ceremony, his last before assuming his new role as superintendent of Twin Valley Community Local Schools for the 2016-17 school year. Senior class president Aleah Hunt spoke about her time at National Trail, as did valedictorians Olivia Gibson and Konner Aldridge. Keynote speaker was National Trail alum Dr. Tracy Kitchel, assistant vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral affairs at the University of Missouri.
Kitchel spoke on the concept of readiness and urged the graduates to be prepared for thought and action when life calls upon them.
“Readiness is a concept I teach my future teachers about,” he said. “I ask them, ‘Are your students ready for what it is you’re about to teach?’ But readiness spans beyond the classroom. The concept of readiness spans your life. Some of [your] questions over the last few years were ‘Am I ready for school today?’ ‘Am I ready with my homework?’ ‘Am I ready for the big game?’ Some of the bigger questions are ‘Am I ready for this job?’ ‘Am I ready for marriage?’ ‘Am I ready for kids?’ ‘Am I ready for retirement?’ ‘Am I ready to let someone go?’”
He named some major figures who did not come into their own until their 40s or 50s — Stan Lee, Julia Child, Samuel L. Jackson, Vera Wang, Henry Ford — and advised that knowing when one is not ready, or not ready yet, is of equal importance.
“Readiness,” he continued, “is about you and what makes you happy. Don’t let others impose their definition of happiness on you — you’ll never be ready for someone else’s definition of happiness.”
“In a few minutes, we’ll be out of here,” Hunt said in her speech, “but it doesn’t mean that we can’t come back and share our knowledge. I know that high school isn’t the easiest, especially when you have a hundred other things to juggle, but please be proud of yourselves. Whether the next step is college or the military, I know all of you will go out and give 100%.”
“Class of 2016, you have years ahead of you to be ready for your next big thing,” Kitchel said in closing, “but it all starts today.”