Superintendent Paul Rigda said the approximately 485 graduates — 458 took part in graduation ceremonies at Ely Stadium — didn’t let major inconveniences from the construction of the new Elyria High School affect their studies during their first three years at the school.
“If you can forge forward through four years of this kind of change and transition, you are more than ready for life after high school,” Rigda told graduates as roughly 5,000 friends and relatives looked on. “You are truly pioneers in uncharted territory.”
Principal Thomas Jama said the class received more than $3.75 million in scholarship money and 86 are members of the National Honor Society while 43 received the presidential award for educational excellence. Jama told the class it was a “job well done” and urged them to balance facts and instincts in their future choices. Jama urged students to live by one of his favorite historical quotes, “Always remember that a person’s character is not judged by what others see them doing, but rather what they do when no one is watching.”
Class speaker Monica Backs— who asked for a moment of silence as balloons were released in memory of classmate Allie Clifford, who was killed last year in a car crash — said graduates should embrace failure and learn from it. She reminded graduates that many great activists, authors and inventors endured numerous failures.
“I think I speak for all of us when I say that, usually, the things that were handed to us hardly mean anything at all compared to those for which we have struggled,” she said. “Neither failure nor successes are unchanging states. Either we work to redeem a failure or work to maintain success.”
Backs challenged classmates to seek excellence and persevere.
“Do something that has never been done before,” she said. “That is what we do, isn’t it? We are Pioneers after all.”
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