HAMILTON — Preble Shawnee High School’s Class of 2018 stepped on stage to accept their diplomas and off into the future during the annual commencement ceremony held Friday, May 25, at Princeton Pike Church of God in Hamilton.
Ninety-nine prospective graduates were recognized during the program, which kicked off with the usual Pomp and Circumstance and a welcome from Principal Dianna Whitis.
Taylor Bair was class speaker. She thanked the audience for sharing the special evening with the graduates, and led off with a familiar country song. “It’s a great day to be alive. I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes,” she recited. “There’s some hard times in the neighborhood, but why can’t every day be just as good?”
“We’ve been saying those sentimental lyrics, time and time again, whether it was after we won a football game, sitting underneath the most notable lights of all time; whether we were swinging our hips to the tune at prom, hand in hand with the rest of our class, or pointing at the cars screaming the lyrics at the top of our lungs,” Bair said.
“Twenty years from now when Travis Tritt comes on the radio, we’ll get a rush with flooding memories from our 12 years here at Preble Shawnee High School,” she continued. “Twelve unforgettable years. From the time kindergarten roundup started, we couldn’t wait to get to school. Soon our worry and responsibility was to not turn our cards to yellow and certainly not the red. Time marched on as it always has and always will. Then before we knew it, we were in the sixth grade headed to Camp Campbell Gard. Junior high was quickly approaching, and all we could think about was just getting to high school.
“We never thought those four insightful years could have passed so quickly like an Arrow released from its bow,” she said.
She continued: “Now, here I stand in front of the people with whom I’ve spent over half of my lifetime. Every year we have wished for the next, waiting for this very day, and here we are. I have one piece of advice for all of you. Stop waiting for tomorrow and start valuing your today. Time is the most precious gift. Do not continue wasting it. I once read it is possible to believe that all the past is at the beginning of the beginning, and all that is and has been is a but the twilight of the dawn. It is possible to believe that all the human mind ever accomplished is but the dream before the awakening. As we close this chapter of our lives, we begin a whole new book full of blank pages. We stand before you all eager to get writing.”
This year’s Salutatorian was David Yocom.
“Before I begin I’d like to thank Mrs. Whitis, Mr. Ellis, Dr. Bishop, Mrs. Moore and everyone else who helped put all this together for us tonight,” Yocom told to the audience. “I’d personally like to thank God, my church and my family for all the help that I’ve had along the way. On behalf of the graduating class of 2018, I would like to thank all of the people that have helped us reach this important point in our lives. None of us got here completely on our own. We had parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or even just friendly faces who knew just what to say, or how to help when things fell into disarray or became too difficult to manage on our own. Some of us have faced some tough obstacles and these obstacles have caused us to become harder workers and better and stronger people along the way. We have learned to strive for the goals we want to achieve.”
He continued: “Within the class that stands before you is a group of very driven individuals with incredibly strong personalities that I believe to be capable of accomplishing great things, in the not-too-distant future. In this not-too-distant future, these people will move straight forward through college or job training and become the next generation of people to take on a sense of responsibility and civic duty within our community. In this not-too-distant future, these people will furthermore learn to weather struggles and hardships as life tries to take its toll. And finally, in this not-too-distant future, we will become the future. We’ll inevitably eventually become the ones who have to make the decisions for our future generations that you parents now have to make. I believe that this group of people that I have come to know for the past 13 years, know better than anyone else they must learn from the past in order to make better decisions for what is to come. We will not be perfect, but I know that we will be the best that we can be.”
Valedictorian honors went to Joseph Bates, who was the final student speaker of the evening.
“Preble Shawnee Class of 2018, parents and family, friends, teachers, and staff,” Bates began, “I’d like to start by thanking everyone for coming out this evening. As we look back on the years behind us and look forward to those still ahead, I’d also like to thank our teachers, administrators, staff, and faculty members for everything you have done for us. For spending late nights grading papers, making sure that the school was functioning properly, or being there, offering a smile or word of encouragement, and teaching and guiding us every step of the way. None of us would be the people we are today without you. And to the parents, thank you for all the sacrifices you have made for us. We wouldn’t be the same people we are today, if not for you.”
He continued, “As I sat pondering the writing of this speech, at a much later date, than I should have because who would have thought — a valedictorian procrastinates?
“I had so many things I wanted to say, but I thought, ‘who wants to sit through a 10 minute speech?’ All my thoughts came back on a collection of memories I’m left with. It’ll be those memories that I will treasure for my time at Preble Shawnee,” Bates said.
“After all, when we reflect on our time in high school, we’re not likely to remember the petty grudges, the bad grade on the Algebra test, how many likes you got on a social media post, or what the powerhouse of a cell is,” Bates told his fellow graduates. “We’ll be left with the memories of the great people we met, the friendships and relationships that were forged, and the unforgettable experiences we shared. These are things that have shaped us into the adults sitting here tonight. I’ll never forget waking up bright and early each morning for school, all of the proms and homecomings, playing basketball in front of you guys on Friday nights with my best friends, the student-staff volleyball games, and the Friday night football games cheering on our team, and most of all, I’ll never forget the friendships I’ve created with my fellow students here. It is a class I am proud to be a part of, and why I will miss this time of my life so much.
“As we move out into the world, whether that be to college this fall, the military to serve our country, or to the workforce, we must remember to not dwell on the past, but to cherish those memories as we forge new ones. Strive to be the best at whatever you are doing. Whatever you are doing, reach for your dreams, but always remember where you came from.”
According to Superintendent Dr. Matt Bishop, students in the Preble Shawnee Class of 2018 accepted over $945,000 in scholarships to continue their education.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.