Swanton High School held its 121st commencement program on Sunday in the school gymnasium. There were 102 graduates on the class roll with future plans that included four-year universities, two-year colleges, and the military.
Senior class president Jarrett Macek welcomed everyone to the program before valedictorian Allison Mishka and salutatorian Madelyn Silveous spoke to their fellow grads and the audience.
Mishka started by thanking all the teachers, administrators, coaches, custodians, and family members for supporting the Class of 2017.
“From elementary school all the way through senior year, we have had a community that has truly cared about its students along with their futures and it’s because of them that we have had the successes we have,” she said.
Silveous told the crowd that not one member of the Class of 2017 did it all on their own. “Thank you all for creating an environment that has allowed us to develop a solid foundation and become unique individuals at the same time.”
The senior chorus performed “See You Again,” and the concert band performed the senior song “Companions on the Journey.”
Swanton High School teacher Josh Eppert gave the keynote address at the commencement. He stressed the need to be present.
“Unfortunately, we miss things in life, sometimes of profound importance, by not being totally present,” he said. “By focusing too much on thoughts and feelings that aren’t directly related to what’s going on around us.”
He said an increasing proportion of our lives are taken up by activities that just take up time. Eppert repeatably tapped his cell phone to highlight the mindlessness of many games.
“By and large, these games, and a host of other online activities, just occupy time.”
He added that, even in the presence of close family and friends, we can dwell on things from the past, missing opportunities that we never knew existed.
“Ultimately, what I am suggesting is we just need to get out of our own way,” said Eppert. “To not let whatever’s going on in our heads get in the way of experiencing life.”
He said, regardless of plans after high school, the graduates will share common experiences.
“You can choose to dwell on what’s in your head or some other distraction or time filler, or you can choose to see what’s possible. What opportunities present themselves. If you choose to see what’s possible, if you orient yourself to finding moments, not waiting for them to happen… you can and will find depth of meaning added to everything and anything you do.”
Eppert expressed his gratitude to the Class of 2017 and his excitement for their possibilities. “As students you have been nothing less than a constant source of joy for me, and today is no exception to that.”
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010