The 142nd Commencement Ceremony at Greensburg Community High School celebrated the past of the distinguished graduating class of 2013 as much as it looked toward their collectively bright future Saturday morning.
Throughout the ceremony, memories were recalled, stories were shared and dreams of positive days yet to come were revealed by students and school faculty who had been there since their journey began.
And what a trip it’s been.
Senior Class President David Navarra took his classmates down Memory Lane, recounting their elementary and junior high school years, their awkward days as underclassmen, their involvement in clubs, sports and other extracurricular activities with their peers, and their collective honor of receiving more than $3 million in grants, scholarships and other monetary donations toward their post-secondary educations. Navarra, who plans to attend Purdue University majoring in Engineering, gave thanks to family and friends of the graduates for their support before reminding his class of their shared accomplishment.
“We will always remember who we are — the class of 2013,” Navarra said.
In a class composed of myriad scholastic standouts, it was Kaeli Fong who finished her high school career as class valedictorian, earning a 4.0 GPA alongside a slew of other academic accolades.
Fong, a future Pharmacy major at Butler University, told her audience how she felt the purpose of her important commencement address was to offer inspiration to her classmates. Avoiding regret was the refrain of Fong’s speech as she encouraged her fellow students not to allow fear of failure to interfere in their lives.
“Seek out the joy in every event and hold on tight,” the valedictorian said. “Twenty years from now, you’ll be more disappointed in the things you didn’t do.”
Before giving the podium over to co-salutatorians Macy Ballard and Lillie Wolter, Fong told her class, “Go out and experience the world and everything in it. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back.”
The shared distinction of class salutatorian allowed two young ladies the opportunity to offer commencement addresses this year.
Ballard, who finished with a GPA above 3.9 and plans to major in Neuroscience at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), found commonalities among real life and the fictional worlds of stage and screen.
Ballard said it was fitting that her favorite television series, The Office, ended its network television run as her class put the finishing touches on their high school careers. As this season in the lives of the class of 2013 draws to a close, another one is set to begin, the salutatorian said, adding her hopes that future seasons for this year’s Pirate graduates continue to improve.
Ballard said that she and her classmate could reflect on many “lasts” that took place during their senior year, reminding her audience that each of those is accompanied by many “firsts.”
Macy Ballard will be joined at IUPUI by Lillie Wolter, co-salutatorian of the class of 2013, who plans to major in Biomedical Engineering.
Wolter told her class to “dream for tomorrow” while remaining aware of all the little things life has to offer.
Wolter encouraged her classmates to dream of what lay ahead, imagining the beginnings of their careers, their future weddings and one day starting families of their own.
“Live to make each day count,” Wolter said.
GCHS Principal Phil Chapple told the honored guests of Saturday’s commencement that the illustrious mark they’ve left on their school will not soon be forgotten. He also offered encouragement for a group of young men and women eagerly anticipating the next steps in their lives.
“When you leave here today, a very different world lies ahead,” the principal said. “This class is prepared to stand on their own,” Chapple noted before thanking the graduates for the memories they’ve provided.
But as much as Chapple and other school faculty may miss the presence of the class of 2013 among the GCHS halls in the future, the students are likely to look back one day and realize they yearn for those days and those times just as much.
Chapple read lyrics from the class song, “You’re Gonna Miss This,” by Trace Adkins: “You’re gonna miss this; You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.”
And though there will be no returning to the days the students officially left behind Saturday morning, those who helped set them on their paths — family, friends, teachers and school administrators — appeared adamant to continue to support them no matter where they are led. That journey, however, depends on the unique desires and dreams of each member of the class of 2013.
“Follow your path with confidence,” Chapple said. “How far you go is up to you.”
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056