EHS Class of ‘24 continues legacy


EATON — Commencement exercises for the 153rd graduating class of Eaton High School were held Saturday, June 1, in the school’s gymnasium, due to inclement weather.

The ceremony was originally scheduled to be held outside in the school’s football stadium, due to a major construction project at the district’s first choice of venue, Millett Hall at Miami University in Oxford.

“Today is a day of celebration and reflection, a day to honor the achievements of our graduates and to look forward to their bright futures,” Principal Scott Couch welcomed those in attendance. “To the Class of 2024, congratulations! You have reached this milestone, and as a community we are proud of you.

“Graduation marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. It is a testament to your hard work, determination, and resilience. Throughout your time here at Eaton High School, you have faced challenges, embraced opportunities, and been presented with skills that can assist you regardless of where your future takes you,” he continued. “Think back to your first day at Eaton High School, which for many of you was Freshmen Focus night. The nervous excitement, the new faces, the unfamiliar hallways. Since then, you have formed friendships, discovered passions, and achieved more than you thought possible. You have learned not only from textbooks but from experiences and from each other. These lessons will serve you well as you move forward.

“Many of you took different paths to get to this graduation ceremony but the important thing is that you are graduating from Eaton Community Schools. As this is the last time that we will all be together in the same spot, carry with you the lessons you have learned, the friendships you have made, and the memories you have created. Know that you are part of a legacy, a graduate from Eaton High School. Many have graduated before you and many will graduate after you, you are part of the Eaton High School graduate community,” Couch said.

According to Couch, of the members of the Class of 2024, 59 percent plan to attend a 2- or 4-year college/university and 47 percent plan to attend a 4-year college/university. “The preliminary data shows the Class of 2024 has accepted a total of over $2 million in scholarships over the next four years,” he said. “Congratulations on this accomplishment.”

Twenty-five percent of the class plans to enter the work force, three percent plans to enter the military, and “14 percent are undecided about their future plans, which is okay considering we talk about having a plan A and plan B because we never know how things are going to go in life,” Couch added.

Superintendent Jeff Parker reminded the students the first Eaton High School class to graduate was in 1872. “That’s a lot of history and it’s a lot of graduates that came before you,” he said. “I know today is about commencement which is the beginning, and where you are headed. But I believe that it is very important to understand where it is we come from.”

Parker asked former graduates of Dixon and Eaton High Schools to stand and be recognized. “Your legacies and memories are committed to eternity,” he said. “You are about to be connected eternally to those graduates who just stood, and thousands of other Dixon and Eaton High School alumni,” he then told the Class of 2024. “They left their mark on Eaton High School and on Dixon High School, and they continue to leave their mark on the world. Class of 2024, like those alumni that just sat down, you have also left your mark on Eaton High School. Now it’s time to begin making your mark on the world.”

“How you make your mark, what your mark will be is your choice. It may be influenced by others, but make no mistake, it is your choice,” he continued. “How you leave your mark or what your mark looks like will depend on what you decide matters most in your life every day. My prayer for each and every one of you is that you decide that God, family, country, and treating all human beings regardless of where they come from with the utmost respect are what matters most to you.”

Class President Jude Minton introduced the Class of 2024 salutatorian and valedictorian.

“The class of 2024 salutatorian is Christopher Lynn Atkins II,” Minton said in his introduction. “He is the son of Chris and Brooke Atkins. Christopher was a member of Peer Leading, Freshman Focus, National Honor Society, varsity football, and varsity basketball. He plans to attend The Ohio State University while double majoring in accounting & business management.”

“To begin, I wanted to go back to an old, but wise, saying: “First is the worst, second is the best,” Atkins quipped to begin his speech. “To be clear, that is a huge joke, no one is more deserving than our decorated valedictorian tonight.”

“On a serious note, good evening esteemed faculty, staff, family members, and fellow graduates,” Atkins continued. “As we gather here to celebrate this amazing milestone in our lives, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the dedicated teachers and staff who have guided us, challenged us, and supported us throughout our academic journey. Your unwavering commitment to our education and well-being has been instrumental in our success, and for that, we are grateful. To my fellow students, congratulations! We have worked tirelessly, overcome countless challenges, and grown together as a community. Today, we stand on the brink of new adventures and opportunities.

“When thinking about what to write, I was honestly unsure of what to say. I didn’t want to try and give advice because I really don’t have any advice. But, while I was thinking and brainstorming with my friends I realized something important that I believe could be valuable to everyone in this room. Ever since I stepped foot into high school I knew one day I wanted to be up here giving a speech. I didn’t care what I had to do. I was hyper-focused on this singular goal of mine. I took the right classes and got the right grades and achieved one of my biggest goals I’ve ever set for myself. But, once I received my award I was thinking to myself, what did I really get from this? After reflecting on the last four years I finally realized. You see, it’s not this award that I’m proud of, but rather the journey,” he continued.

“This journey brought me more than an award could ever,” he said. “From my parents being in my corner supporting me and guiding me, the lifelong friendships I’ve made with people I love and care about, the memories made on late night calls studying or on/in this very field/gym, or the late night runs to Wings or Casanos after a huge win with some of my best friends. This award is a symbol of those experiences, but the real value lies in the journey itself, which has shaped us into the resilient, knowledgeable, and capable individuals we are today.

“To wrap it all up, I want to give everyone a reminder, when you’re set on a goal and want it more than nothing, make sure to take time and appreciate the journey, because that is the real reward,” Atkins concluded.

“The class of 2024 valedictorian is Bailey Louann Wright,” Minton shared. “She is the daughter of John and Lavon Wright. Bailey was a member of the Ohio Attorney General’s Teen Ambassador Board, the National Society of Leadership and Success, Edison State’s Creative Writing Club, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and the National Honor Society. Bailey graduated from Edison State Community College with her associate degree in 2022, and she graduated from Franklin University with her bachelor’s degree at the end of 2023. She plans to attend law school after a gap year.”

“It is unbelievable to me that the past 13 years of our lives have arrived at their final destination of this day, our high school graduation,” Wright said. “Today, our one similar path has reached a fork in the road where all 145 of us will have to find our own individual path forward. Today is the last day that our class will ever all be together as one. That is a very scary thought, but also an exciting one. No matter what your future plans are, whether you are furthering your education, serving our country, going into the workforce, or haven’t quite figured it out yet, you are well equipped to thrive and be a successful adult in this big wide world. You have each worked for this, struggled for this, and sacrificed for this. You should all be incredibly proud of yourselves and your accomplishments.”

“The passage of time occupies my thoughts very frequently,” she continued. “How often does someone say that they cannot wait for something? You can’t wait to grow up, you can’t wait for summer, you can’t wait for the weekend, you can’t wait to graduate. Surely, we all have said that phrase a few times over the course of our lives, and probably quite a few times over the past few months. We never treat time as the precious resource that it truly is. Time is ever fleeting. The tick of the clock is unfaltering, never uncertain. It is likely a lot more certain than any one of us is right now. It is, unfortunately, so easy for us to get caught up in our own lives and fail to realize that time is passing. We can forget to cherish a moment while it is happening.

“It is crucial that we pause and allow ourselves to appreciate the fact that we are alive and experiencing a given moment,” she said. “To cherish time means to be fully present in our lives. It means to savor every little moment that might seem insignificant because our lives are ultimately made up of those moments. These small moments, whether they came with a challenge or with the promise of a hug from a friend, made us who we are today. As you move forward in your life, remember that your life and your existence is a gift, and it should not be wasted. It is on you to make the most of your time on this earth. Use that time wisely. Make good decisions. Make bad decisions and learn from them. Strive to make a life that you truly enjoy, day by day and small moment by small moment.

“The passage of time is what has brought us to this moment today,” she continued. “We have each grown together, learned together, and became the individuals we are today, together. For many of us who have been at Eaton for our entire lives, we have watched as our classmates have changed and prospered into their true selves, and that is a wonderful gift that we have been given. For example, I stopped baby talking if anyone hadn’t noticed. Take a moment to think about all of the relationships that have helped you to reach this monumental day. Your teachers, your mentors, your best friends, your family, and your parents.”

“To my classmates, please never lose sight of who you are, and never lose sight of the people in your life that actually matter,” she concluded. “It is paramount that you treasure your journey thus far, as you have been on it for the entirety of your life, but also seek to make this new journey the best one yet… Welcome to the beginning of the rest of your lives!”

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on X @emowenjr.

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