With a class motto of “Our lives before us, our past behind us, but memories are forever with us,” 149 Wauseon High School seniors participated in a commencement ceremony held Sunday afternoon. A total of 151 seniors graduated.
Following the students’ entrance to “Pomp and Circumstance” into the high school gym, Class President Levi Krasula welcomed guests to the ceremony. His greeting was followed by a performance of “Omnia Sol” (“Let Your Heart Be Staid”) by the Senior Ensemble.
Board of Education President Sandra Griggs introduced class valedictorians Christina Norman and Justin Freestone.
The daughter of Roy and Anna Norman, Christina maintained a 4.0 grade point average, and served as vice president of the National Honor Society and class representative on Student Council. She was a member of Girls Christian Fellowship, the Art Club, the Spanish Club, the Wauseon 4-H Club, and the Wauseon Varsity Softball team. Christina will attend Bowling Green State University.
Justin, the son of Michael and Brandi Freestone, maintained a 4.0 GPA while serving on the National Honor Society, as an Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow, and as a member of the Chorale and A Capella Choir, the Spanish Club, the swim team, and the National Youth Leadership. He will attend Ohio University.
WHS Principal Keith Leatherman announced inductees to the high school’s Academic Hall of Fame, who represent the top 5% of the class: Kodi Albright, Danielle Bryan, Samuel Frank, Justin Freestone, Kennedy Grime, Christina Norman, Hannah Richer, and Jozef Shema. Each was awarded a pin and a certificate, and will have their names added to the high school display.
In her class address, Christina said it’s been a long road to graduation. She noted that the graduating class was the last grade to attend the former Elm Street Elementary School before the present elementary and middle school complex opened.
“The Class of 2019 has always had an incredible sense of solidarity…(E)ven in those days when we were drowned in schoolwork, sports, and other activities, we still turned to each other for hep,” she said. “We all wanted to see each other succeed, no matter what, and that support gave us the determination we needed to persevere…”
Christina said throughout high school she had a mindset to leave Wauseon and pursue her life elsewhere. “But looking back, I realized this town and this school is a pretty incredible place to grow up and learn. I took the time to slow down and really take the time to think about my experiences here at Wauseon.”
She encouraged her classmates to expand their horizons and experience new things, “but always remember the experiences you had to shape you into who you are now – the newest graduates of Wauseon High School.”
In his address, Hunter Mattin said the seniors’ graduation ceremony “is a testament to the fact that sometimes our different paths can also lead to the same conclusions, the same emotions, and the same destination.”
Speaking about his generation, Hunter said: “Our old counterparts worry (that) a group of people who were born entirely after the year 1999 can still accomplish things and live up to the promise of the previous generations. They may worry that a group of adults that have one foot in the digital world and one foot in the real world may struggle to find meaningful relationships. And they worry, knowing the fact that this generation emphasizes somewhat different American values than the previous ones. But, rest assured, this generation has proven something. Each generation, including this so-called Generation Z, will follow a trend of being more compassionate, more open-minded, and more willing to listen.”
Leatherman told those attending that the Class of 2019 “has continued to measure up to the high levels of expectations that are held at Wauseon High School.” He listed the seniors’ achievements, including seven state and three national speech qualifiers; superior state ratings for the school band and choir; a gold-rated FFA chapter; NWOAL league championships for 15 different school athletic teams, and three state team runner-up finishes and a wrestling team dual state championship; and 64 senior honor students, with 14 seniors earning superior ACT scores.
Leatherman said seniors earned approximately $73,000 in local scholarships, and over $378,000 in public scholarships for the first year of college.
He also spotlighted nine seniors entering branches of the military.
“I have great confidence in your ability to be successful in life, as you have demonstrated time and time again to everyone here at Wauseon High School your drive and desire to perform at the highest level,” Leatherman told the graduates.
Closing remarks were made by Marissa Martinez, senior class vice president.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.