HAMILTON — With all the Pomp and Circumstance of most area graduation ceremonies, Preble Shawnee Local School District’s Class of 2016 held its commencement exercises at Princeton Pike Church of God on Friday, May 27.
Among the 99 graduates, scholarship money earned this year totaled $368,590, according to school officials.
As with many high school seniors at this time of year, the importance of family, friends and teachers was shared during the class speakers’ speeches.
James Sims, co-salutatorian, said the evening “marks an important achievement for all of us on stage. First, I want to thank my parents and family for helping me grow and become who I am today. I would also like to thank my friends and my academic educators and advisors for everything they’ve done.
“As a class we have been able to watch each other grow and mature. We’ve seen friends leave and we’ve gained some new ones. I can remember since junior high we’ve all been a really close class and we’ve all gotten along,” he said.
“Senior year has been great. It’s been the most fun for everyone and we all realize after this year everything in our life is going to change,” Sims added.
He concluded, “I encourage everyone here today to slow down and not wish your life away. Don’t wish it was the weekend or it was your birthday. Almost all of us seniors have wished for this day for a very long time and now that it’s here we look back and realize our senior year has flown by and we start to wonder where all the time has gone. Slow down and enjoy life and everything you have today — because tomorrow is never guaranteed.”
Co-Salutatorian Joby Williams spoke of friends and family — and friends as family.
“The Class of 2016 has been much more than just classmates and friends. We have been a family. Most of this family has been together since kindergarten or first grade and we have picked up many new friends along the way,” he said. “We have had some great times together that I will never forget. I couldn’t have imagined spending these times with anyone else.
“We have had some of the best teachers that we could have ever dreamed of,” Willams continued. “They have done everything they could to teach us lessons in academics and in life.”
“Some of us might be wanting to get out of Preble County after graduation. But, we all know that we will really miss this school and this community very much. I mean, where else can you find a turkey hanging out in the courtyard?” he asked. “Cows on the baseball field? Or the teachers having to close their windows because of the farmers spreading cow manure on the fields?”
“Keep working hard like we have for the past 13 years and you will do great things in this world,” Williams closed. “Thank you all, once again, for attending the graduation of the most legendary class to ever walk the halls of Preble Shawnee.”
“Thirteen years ago our kindergarten teachers told us that one day we would graduate,” Valedictorian Johnathon Cottingim said. “Back then, no one knew what that was all about. Now that we’re here, I’m still not sure we know. But we all know that it is a time to reflect on our school years and a time to look to our future.
“For me, this is both a sad and exciting experience,” Cottingim noted. “Reminiscing about school days gone by is sad because we are closing a huge chapter of our lives. We have spent two-thirds of our lives pursuing the diploma that we will soon receive. We are leaving behind all of the great things that we have participated in.
“Many people say that high school is the best time of your life and it has been fun. But as we close this chapter I think we are opening an even better one,” Cottingim said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.