NEW PARIS — “We entered high school as supposedly one of the worst classes and in the span of four years we became one of National Trail’s strongest classes that excels in academics, athletics, and school spirit,” National Trail Valedictorian Elizabeth Melton said during the school’s commencement ceremony held Friday, May 24.
NTHS said farewell to 78 seniors. The new graduates were congratulated on their successes and given advice for the next chapter in their lives.
The NTHS Class of 2019 earned numerous awards and honors over the course of the year. The class earned over half a million dollars in scholarships, according to school administrators. As of graduation, the exact amount earned was $623,100. According to High School Principal Brian McKnight, this is $200,000 more than last year.
Of the 78 graduating seniors, 55 plan to continue their education at a two or four year post-secondary option, nine students are planning to go into the workforce, nine students are undecided, and five students have enlisted to join the United States Armed Forces.
To begin the ceremony, Cheyenne Gillett performed the National Anthem, before the students who pledged their commitments to various branches of the United States Military led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Students entering the military included Jesse Biser, Lane Hurd, Hunter Lee, Rockiesha Sedeno, and Quintin Spence.
Macel Stowers gave the opening invocation.
Principal McKnight welcomed the students and their families by recognizing the hard work and commitment all seniors exhibited over the past several years. Superintendent Robert Fischer also addressed the crowd, congratulating the students on the completion of their high school careers and sharing his wisdom and advice to those gathered.
“Graduation is always a special night — it is the culmination of 13 years of school and opens the door to a right of passage to launch you into a new time in your life. For your parents, friends, and staff at National Trail, it is a time to reminisce about how far you’ve come and stress, again, their hopes and expectations for your future,” Fischer said.
“During this early time in your life, our team hopes that we’ve helped you build tenacity and work ethic that will help drive you to succeed and be the best each and every day. Further, as a school, we hope that we’ve helped you realize the importance of setting a goal and finding ways to reach this goal. As a class, your legacy will always last in the hallways based on your accomplishments that you created in the classroom, on the athletic arena, or on the stage,” he said.
“However, it is your individual character that will always be remembered for years to come,” Fischer continued. “That character is a trait that will not only leave your mark at National Trail, but will also go with you as you continue to move towards whatever steps life takes you towards next. As you continue with your future, remember that you have not reached this point alone. Over the years you’ve had much support and guidance along the way. From your family, as evidenced here tonight, your friends, and of course the National Trail Local School staff.
“As you move along in life, you will remember the stories about their influence, you will remember their unique characteristics, and you will always remember the stories that took place in and out of the school day. Because of these experiences, we hope you will be a better person and we hope that you will continue to grow as an individual because of the impact each of these individuals have on you,” Fischer concluded.
The Advanced Steel Band performed “Hallelujah” before Valedictorian and Senior Class President Melton presented her student address.
“We entered high school as supposedly one of the worst classes and in the span of four years we became one of National Trail’s strongest classes that excels in academics, athletics, and school spirit. The students in our class are some of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met. They consistently are looking to better themselves, their grades, and our school while somehow balancing extra-curriculars and or part-time jobs,” she said.
“Our dedication to academics is proof we have a drive to succeed. I believe the true accomplishment our class always exhibits is the high involvement of our students. Our involvement is evident is the extra-curriculars National Trail offers. There are many seniors who are involved a handful of clubs and athletics, many of our students are leaders in FFA, National Honor Society, Art Club, Renaissance Club, and Captain Varsity athletics. The Class of 2019 has made Trail different because we have an unstoppable drive. We have high aspirations to become pediatricians, teachers, members of the military, engineers, nurses, police officers, graphic designers, construction workers, doctors, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and many many more. While some of our dreams may change, I know that the Class of 2019 will somehow impact the world,” Melton continued.
“On that inspirational note, fellow graduates, go and conquer the world. I implore you to do something that you love, because there are many people who never get the chance to. And my final farewell to our community, we are all so grateful to the time you have invested in us. Thank you.”
Salutatorian Savanna Abner also had an opportunity to address her peers.
“Graduation is an awkward time because it is a part of our lives where we are torn between the joy of memories and the excitement of our future. The majority of us, and probably some teachers and administration, have patiently awaited this day since we entered high school. The day that seemed like it would never come has finally arrived and we just want to hit pause. We want to slow it down and enjoy these last moments we have with each other,” she said.
“When we walk across the state today to receive our diplomas, we close the final chapter of our 2,379 day journey together. The journey has not always been easy, but the Class of 2019 has created one full of memories. I can assure you that none of us will ever forget our time here. Are we there yet? Questions like these are what we used to bombard our parents with as little kids in the backseat of their cars, not so patiently waiting to arrive at wherever we were going.
“We were often too focused with the destination that we forgot to enjoy the journey. Now as most parents would answer with a simple yes or no, or simply ignore their kids, there was always a response like, ‘Don’t make me turn that car around.’ The Class of 2019 is that kid. We are here today to celebrate our accomplishments and anxiously awaiting our futures, but we would be kidding ourselves if we said we didn’t face roadblocks or overcome setbacks,” Abner said.
“Class of 2019, we did it. Although we have reached the point in our lives where we make the decision to change our paths, never forget the memories we have created on our journey. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, right here right now, is to commit to the journey and not to the outcome. Don’t spend your time focusing on the destination, enjoy every minute you have, because we know all too well that the destination is not always guaranteed.
“I truly believe that the Class of 2019 has left an impact on National Trail and I truly believe every single person in these seats will make an impact on the world in one way or another.”
Guest speaker Misti Foust-Cofield, a National Trail alumna from the Class of 1995, had the opportunity to share her life story with the graduating seniors, imparting advice to them along the way. She spoke of her experience at National Trail, her journey through school, and the path she took in her career and personal life.
“Graduation is one of those huge steps in life that is the closing of one chapter and the beginning to another amazing chapter. Moving on to an exciting stage of life, where you will be confronted with opportunities to prove yourself as a leader, a do-er, and a tenacious achiever. I am sure that many of you have well defined plans and a general idea of what will come next in your life,” she said.
“Some of you likely have a good idea of what you would like to do next and a dream that will likely get you there. A few of you may just be thankful that you succeeded to this point of graduation and to you congratulations. The times ahead will be filled with moments of excitement and you will have situations that are trying and may test your character and integrity. In the end, your success will be determined solely by you and your personal determination.”
The National Trail Board of Education, Superintendent Fischer, and Principal McKnight presented diplomas to the graduating seniors. Students gifted their families with flowers in gratitude for their support and Sharon Corwin led her peers in the tassel ceremony before Jesse Biser gave the closing benediction.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH