HAMILTON — “Never stop being a family, because that’s who we are at the end of the day.”
That was the message Preble Shawnee’s Allison Zornes shared with her 74 fellow seniors during the Arrows’ commencement exercises, held on Friday, May 24, at Princeton Pike Church of God in Hamilton.
Zornes, class speaker for Shawnee’s 2019 graduates, presented her classmates with a special video during the ceremony.
“I once read that memories are not the key to the past but to the future,” she said. “On the night before our final first day of high school, I had an idea to capture the personas of every single person on this stage, including our greatest moments. This video that is about to be shown consists of every single day of our senior year. I took this opportunity as one last goodbye to my fellow classmates as we venture off on our own paths after today. This will hopefully bring tears to your eyes, joy to your hearts, and light to your day.”
She continued, “This group has developed such a bond to understand one another and know that we all have our good, bad, and even worse days. As we walked through our white cement walls for five days every week, we knew that something was different about ourselves. This class will be remembered for the greatest reasons, and for that, we all have become a whole. So remember, when you’re walking down the hall and hear someone screaming in the gym, that’s just Cody Clevenger taking PE way too serious. When you see someone wearing a newspaper dress, that’s Annaliese Talbott showing everyone up. When you notice someone is standing a whole other five feet above your head, that’s just Jedd Geisen being Jedd. When you hear of someone going above and beyond to achieve the unheard of, that’s Nicole Sims coming back from an almost career-ending injury.
“But, most of all, when you hear of individuals being as memorable as we are, that’s the Class of 2019 coming together not as a group, but as a family. As we walk out of here today, our lives begin. Despite where we go whether it’s the military, work force, healthcare industry, education, or are undecided, we are family. The video was just a small part of everyday we spent together this year. We can’t forget about the great laughs and memories that weren’t able to be captured. I want to thank ever single one of my classmates for giving me a reason to remember them,” Zornes added.
Kyle Manley was the Preble Shawnee Class of 2019’s salutatorian.
“This is a new feeling,” Manley told his fellow graduates. “I’m behind a pulpit in front of this congregation giving a sermon. Maybe I ought to reconsider my future career as an English teacher.”
“My friends made sure that everyday was something new and interesting and the staff at our schools have personalities that I don’t think can be beat by anyone,” he said. “They gave us all memories that I’m sure we’ll all carry on.
“We’re a very diverse group. It’s just kind of hard to explain straight up. We’ve been together for 13 years. Some of us, maybe, longer or less. But it doesn’t make any of us more or less significant than the others. We all have a place here and it’s important. We all have our challenges coming. Time to let the training wheels go and ride alone down our own path. I have faith in every last one of these people behind me can achieve great things. I cherish all the good memories I have with these people.
“We’ve arrived at life’s doorstep and it’s time we enter through doorway. Just remember, always keep your head up, always stand back up from a fall — spread your kindness to others and shine your light on the world. Let’s show the world just how great we’ll make it. Let’s be the small class that makes a big difference.”
Abby Bulach shared co-valedictorian honors with Jenna Lovely.
“About a month ago, I was told I was going to be a valedictorian of the senior class,” Bulach said. “I was both excited and nervous because I had to prepare a speech for graduation. At the time, I wasn’t really sure what I should write about so I went to various people for some inspiration. My mom told me to tell my class ‘to stay true to yourself, don’t lose track of who you are, and of course, don’t forget to call your mom.’ When I asked my sister, she suggested to talk about some memories our class shares, so I will do exactly that … starting with elementary school, which what feels like yesterday we were soaking each other with water sponges at field day, getting our names called at the Camden bucket drawings for being a good bucket filler, and even getting ‘married’ under the playground tree.
“Then we grew older and attended West Elkton Intermediate, where we threw dance parties in the hallways, got pretty much every recess game you could think of taken away because we were all just a little too competitive, and ended our time there with the sixth grade dance and Camp Campbell Gard,” she continued.
“The most memorable time from junior high was while we were in D.C. and we had to walk eight blocks, in the not so nice part of town, to the baseball game because our bus and the door of a parked car didn’t get along.
“Then finally we were entering high school,” Bulach said. “This is when we all started to become our own person and find our individual interest, skills, and passions. Some of us joined a sports team while others participated in various clubs. However, together, we all enjoyed attending the homecoming and prom dances, cheering each other on in the loud crowds and finishing our senior years wit ha win over the teachers in the student/staff volleyball game, possibly forcing them to retire from the game.
”I would like to say to my class, as this chapter comes to an end and the next one begins … chase your dreams, no matter the size, and believe in yourself in everything you do,” Bulach told her classmates. “So, as we go our separate ways, whether we are continuing our education at college, attending a trade school, going straight into the workforce, or military, I know everyone sitting beside me will be successful, but sometime in the future we will all be wishing we had just five more minutes.”
Lovely admitted to being scared at the initial thought of speaking to her classmates.
“I feel very blessed to have the ability to speak in front of all of you tonight but I’m not going to lie, I was terrified when I thought about the fact I was going to have to talk in front of all you,” she said. “For those of you who have known me my whole life, you know I used to be extremely shy. I may not be quite as shy as I used to be, but let’s just say I don’t see a lot of public speaking in my future.
“Throughout my life at Preble Shawnee I have made so many amazing memories. From all the crazy times at Camden then moving to West Elkton and getting to go to sixth grade camp even if it pretty much rained the whole time. Then moving into junior high and getting to feel so old being in the same school as all the big high schoolers. But also so nervous that I would forget my locker combo before I realized that nobody actually locks their lockers.
“Some of my most favorite memories that I will never forget are winning the SWBL basketball league with all my friends in the eighth grade, all the home football games getting hyped up by the band, school dances with the most amazing date, winning the powder puff football game, winning sectionals for soccer and so many more unbelievable memories,” she continued.
“The fact that Preble Shawnee is such a small community is something I love. Some of you graduating may not be able to wait to get out of this town and move on but personally I can’t wait to come back after college,” Lovely continued. “I can honestly say that I know everyone that I’m graduating with. I believe this is such a rare and special opportunity. We share bonds together with not only our classmates but with each individual teacher. It is so important to be able to learn in such a positive and safe environment.
“There are so many classes I learned so much from and others that I will never forget just because they were fun, like Advanced PE and of course my AP Study Hall, which was for sure the best study hall ever. Personally, I was so happy I was able to spend my high school years at Preble Shawnee. We have all spent these years in different and unique ways. We have all had different experiences that have shaped us into who we are today.
“Now that high school is officially over we finally have the opportunity to make our own decisions on what we chose to do for the rest of our lives,” Lovely said.
“Overall, I think that tonight is a night to look back on the amazing memories that we have made over the years,” She concluded. “Enjoy this and take it all in. Then think of all that we’ve overcome and remember to never give up on what you want. If I was to give you one piece of advice it would be to treasure this moment today, take it all in, because this is what the songs are written about. This is the youth you can’t get back, the friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. Never forget where you came from because it made us who we are today.”
“Class of 2019, the possibilities are endless for what you can accomplish in this world,” Dr. Matt Bishop, Superintendent, said. “Before going out and leaving your mark please remember that life is full of choices. When you have to choose between love and hate, choose love. When you have to choose between hard work and the easy way out, choose hard work. When you have to choose between honesty and lying, choose honesty. Choose inclusion over bigotry, integrity over shallowness, hope of fear, strength over weakness, compassion over heartlessness, self reliance over assistance and positively over negativity. Choose the things that will make you a better person, a better brother or sister, a better friend or neighbor. Your life will be filled with moments when you will be defined by the choices you make. Do your very best every day,” he encouraged the graduates.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH