AVON LAKE — Cameras rhythmically flashed from both sides of the gymnasium like an electronic light show.
Exactly 46 of them sparkled in just the first minute alone as a sea of maroon and gold gowns poured onto the hardwood floor. Names like Matthew, Christopher and Megan were shouted by fathers from the bleachers as mothers patiently waited to lock eyes with their children so the moment could be digitally captured forever.
Avon Lake High School’s graduating class of 2007 brought family and friends who packed the bleachers and folding chairs and even stood in two rows in the back. A few dozen more guests were pushed out into the lobby of the school where four television monitors broadcasted the proceedings.
The 280 students took center stage Sunday afternoon in what was their final sendoff — and likely the last time they would all see each other in one group again.
Valedictorian and class president Patrick Maxwell told his fellow grads not to dwell on that sobering thought and left them with a promising message.
“Instead of dwelling on the past, enjoy the future,” he said, as throngs of audience members listened intently. “Life is like driving down the road. Don’t be the passenger, be the driver. But enjoy the scenery, don’t go too fast, and enjoy life.”
Maxwell, who played football, ran track, and participated in National Honor Society and served as a designee in the model United Nations program, said he wanted to get across only one message before they accept their diplomas: Grab life by the horns.
“If you want something to happen in the future, you have to go after it today,” he said. “We’re not all going to save the world, and that’s all right. If each of us finds something we like — pursue it passionately.”
Principal Joanie Walker commended the class and wished them the best on their journey through life.
“You’ve proven to be a class of courage, maturity and unselfish characteristics,” she said.
Many parents were moved to tears by the time their child’s name was called. Donna Corsaro said she was proud of her daughter, Caitlin Turchik, for how hard she worked for her diploma. Turchik worked two jobs through much of high school and has saved about $1,200 for nursing school.
“It was worth the late nights studying,” the 18-year-old Turchik said. “I’m so happy. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this all my life.”
Ryan McNamara and Jerry Roth, both 18, drove to graduation together and said they’ll miss going to football games and hanging out with their classmates.
“I can’t believe I’m here already. It went so fast,” McNamara said. “It’s pretty exciting. I just can’t wait for what’s next.”
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LINDA MURPHY / CHRONICLE PHOTOS
Avon Lake’s Shane Wasara waits as fellow graduate Chase Wheeler fiddles with his tassle.