OXFORD — Eaton High School’s Class of 2021 graduated during the school’s 150th commencement ceremony, held at Miami University’s Millett Hall on Sunday, May 30.
Eaton High School Principal Scott Couch welcomed those in attendance and addressed the students.
“Looking back and thinking, just four years ago, you were entering the high school for freshmen focus night that first time, and to see where you are now, it’s really exciting,” he said. “It’s a reminder of how quickly time goes by. A lot can happen in four years.”
He continued, “Hopefully you’ve learned many lessons the past four years, and not just lessons in the classroom. I encourage you to continue to work hard, learn many new things, and apply that knowledge. It is exciting to see what you will do as you move into adulthood.”
According to Couch, there were 158 seniors in the graduating class. Eighty-six plan to attend college — 67 at a four-year university, and 19 at two-year programs.
“One student is going to do a nine-month mission trip to Africa, 42 students are joining the workforce, and eight students are still undecided. And that’s okay too,” Couch said. He noted, the senior class accepted approximately $1.6 million in total scholarships from universities and local scholarships, and will be attending 36 different colleges and universities.
Superintendent Jeff Parker spoke of the long history of the graduating classes of Eaton, and called on all the alumni in the room to be recognized.
“We know if this was a graduation when we could have more than six people per graduate here we’d have a lot more,” he said. “But graduates of 2021, I believe it is always important for us to remember where it is that we come from. Especially on this weekend, Memorial Day weekend, when we honor those who served in the military and who sacrificed. I still think it’s important to remember, this is where we come from. You’re not here today, as Eaton graduates, if not for the people who came before you. So, I think it’s very important that we honor these alumni that are standing before you helped pave the way to where you are today. These alumni are the reason that it’s great to be an Eagle. Or the reason it was great to be a [Dixon-Israel] Dragon.
“You’re about to be connected eternally with these other alumni, and thousands of other alumni from our community. These alumni are responsible for the traditions that make up our school community. These alumni are the foundation and the cornerstone of Eaton community schools. They strengthen the foundation of the community all those years ago, maybe last year, maybe 50 years ago. They continue to solidify the foundation of our community, our country and the world — and we thank them.”
He continued: “Eaton High School Class of 2021, you have strengthened the Eaton Community Schools, and the Eaton community. And now it is time for each of you to begin strengthening the foundation of your family, your community, your country, and the world. How you do this will be your choice. It will be influenced by others, including many that are in the audience this afternoon. But make no mistake, it is your choice.
“My prayer for each and every one of you is that you decide that God, family, country and treating all human beings, regardless of who they are, or where they come from, with the utmost respect, and hoping that is what matters most in your life. Your futures are bright, and I’m looking forward to future years of seeing and hearing about the mark you leave on the world. May God bless each of you as you commence this next step in your journey.”
Senior Class President Erika Wilkinson introduced salutatorians Mallory Deaton, Trinity Eddy and Lauren Schaurer, as well as valedictorians Cari Metz and Owen Hewitt.
Deaton spoke to those in attendance and addressed her fellow graduates. “I want to say that I’m so proud of each and every one of you for making it to this moment right here. None of us have had the same path to get here. Some of us have had more twists or turns or hills to climb than others, or maybe even a wooded path we couldn’t see through. But regardless, we got through of it together. And for that I’m extremely proud. Approximately 1,460 days ago, we walked out of middle school for the last time, eager to take on high school in the fall. Eager for Friday night lights, block scheduling, and more freedom.
“My greatest hope for you all going forward is that you embrace every situation you find yourself in, good and bad, with courage and with the mindset that no matter, what you have the opportunity to come out of it a better person.”
Eddy also addressed her classmates. “We are all a part of Eaton’s class of 2021. But now for the first time in our lives, we have control over where we go next. All of us going in different directions — college military, workforce, some close to home or a long plane ride away. But no matter what, we have lessons that we learned here. And I urge everyone to remember these lessons as you move on. The calculus and chemistry can be useful. But the life experiences we learn from the people here is what we will always remember. They shaped us into the people we are today. And now we can take all of these lessons and do great things because of them. I wish everyone the best, and to every person here who has been a part of our journey at our school, thank you.”
Schaurer thanked Parker, Couch and other members of the school’s staff and administration. “Thank you for the great planning, flexibility and dedication that allowed us to remain fully in person during the pandemic this past year, but also ensuring our health and safety to be able to have our entire senior year in person, five days a week, was a unique gift that not many of our peers across the country got to experience. For that, we are grateful. To the tremendous teachers at EHS, thank you for the incredible work and dedication over the past year, from transitioning to fully virtual classrooms within two days last March, to supporting both remote and in-person learners this year.”
Hewitt echoed his classmates’ gratitude. “Graduation is a bittersweet moment because we leave behind the safety net of our parents and family, but also eagerly begin the next stage of our lives,” he added. “And it’s with great excitement that we set off into a world of endless possibilities. Looking back at 13 years that were filled with many memories, both exciting and routine, we have created many friendships new and old, forged bonds with teammates to last a lifetime, and shared experiences with classmates. We can all be assured that our time in high school has well-prepared as for futures that lay ahead, whatever path that may be.”
He continued, “This year, more than any other, has taught us that tomorrow is not promised. We cannot always count on the world being kind to us. We have learned to prepare ourselves for detours in the road ahead for some things are out of our control. But we have also learned that this year, we are a resilient group and can overcome adversity.”
Metz congratulated her fellow graduates. “I can’t believe how fast time has gone. And it’s a bittersweet moment knowing that this is the day that ends our 13-year-long journey together. However, this also marks the beginning of a journey full of independent self-discovery and success. This may not seem like a big deal today, but 10, 20, 30, maybe even 40 years from now, you’ll look back on this day. And remember the people you met, the lessons you learned and the memories you made. We may be parting ways, but we will always share a special bond with the class of 2021. Thank you all for growing up with me.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr