ELYRIA — As the North Ridgeville class of 2009 took the stage in gold and blue robes, all but one of the 250 graduating seniors attended Thursday night’s commencement ceremonies at Stocker Arts Center.
Surprise and concern from the attendees could be heard when it was announced that John Lesko would not be able to walk with his classmates to receive a diploma after he was involved in an auto accident earlier in the day.
But, according to school board president Maria Sycz, Lesko was not seriously injured in the incident, which occurred following Thursday morning’s commencement rehearsal.
“It’s our understanding that it wasn’t anything serious, and he’s going to be OK,” Sycz said. “We just wanted to let everyone know (at the ceremony), and to let he and his family know that all of our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Framed by black curtains and an illuminated dark blue backdrop, students, teachers, and administrators looked on as valedictorian Kristen N. Rohrer pondered “How do I sum up 13 years in three minutes?”
Rohrer advised her classmates that while the road each takes will be important, “it amounts to little compared to what lies within each of us.”
On a less serious note, Rohrer took note of lessons learned from the famous Robert Fulghum book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
“Clean up your mess, flush, wash your hands, nap every afternoon, be aware of wonder and learn to play.”
She was followed by salutatorian Alyssa Vah, who spoke of Legos, “Star Wars,” Barbies, and other toys and games that marked the young lives of the graduates. “Remember, you’re still that kid, just a bit bigger.”
Before leaving the podium, Vah urged students to heed the words of Gandhi, India’s great statesman and spiritual leader. “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Collectively, the 250-member class amassed college scholarships and awards from other agencies totaling an estimated $1,420,000. Loud applause and cheers also accompanied a reminder that the class of 2009 was the first in 52 years to reach the state regional finals in basketball.
Using the analogy of a glass jar filled with golf balls, pebbles and sand, Sycz told the class never to let all of life’s little things (the sand) crowd out the most vital things (golf balls) in life: family, friends, health, and individual passions.
The reading of graduates’ names was accompanied by the continuous bright glow of digital cameras, and camera flashes in the darkened theater. With the 994-seat main theater filled to capacity, the overflow crowd watched the ceremonies on several TVs set up in the Stocker lobby.
After diplomas were handed out, class president Amanda Cotleur closed the commencement by saying it represented a flood of emotions ranging from pride to relief. In her final piece of advice to classmates, Cotleur urged them to continue turning to their parents “for their advice, their support, and yes, even their cash.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.