Stepping off into their future

Story by Jamie Piontkowski Plymouth Community Education Communications Coordinator

Review photos byEmmitt B. Feldner Review photos byEmmitt B. Feldner Plymouth High School graduated 188 students June 9 at Plymouth City Park with hundreds of family and friends in attendance.

The Commencement Band, directed by Jason Sebranek, performed the processional and recessional. The Senior Choral Ensemble, directed by Dan Parks, sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Paul Simon during the ceremony.

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Rachel Francis and Leah Hankins, Student Council co-presidents.

Eric Roberts, president of the National Honor Society, welcomed those gathered and later directed students to shift their tassles.

The four valedictorians – Rebecca Ebbott, Megan Holec, Mary Paese and Jacqueline Schaefer – gave a combined speech focusing on the analogy of the class being a puzzle made up of unique pieces.

Members of the class will forever be united by their shared experiences and their memories, they said. They recalled Prom, the basketball game where they comforted Campbellsport after a tragic accident there and the recent lip dub involving the entire student body.

Change is coming, they noted, and the students should take advantage of that change, to figure out where their puzzle pieces fit in the new puzzle.

Clark Reinke, superintendent, told the graduates that all those gathered are proud of their accomplishment. “You are here today because you took advantage of the comprehensive education this community has provided,” he said.

He then introduced the commencement speaker, social students teacher and soccer coach Gale Grahn, who was chosen by the seniors to give the address. Reinke noted that extracurriculars are a key pillar in the district, because they add richness to the educational experience, and that Grahn is legendary for starting and building the PHS softball program.

Grahn thanked Reinke, who is retiring at the end of the month, for his 13 years of leadership.

He then encouraged the graduates to be prepared for the changes they’ll be encountering. He quoted Winston Churchill, basketball coach John Wooden and the 1980s bands Bon Jovi (“map out your future – but do it in pencil”) and REO Speedwagon (“So, if you’re tired of the same old story, turn some pages”).

Changes will happen, and that will require adjustments, said Grahn, who originally thought he was going to be a sports journalist.

As you encounter change, Grahn told the graduates, think about your parents and teachers and have a basic idea of your guiding principles. “Not everything is going to go the way you want it to,” he said.

He also shared the softball team’s motto – “Respect all, fear none” – which he said works for life in general. “Don’t be afraid to start a new chapter,” he said. “And come back and let me know how it’s going.”

PHS Principal Dan Mella then presented the Class of 2013, urging them to pursue their passions, as Mr. Grahn has done. “Be thankful for everything that you’ve been given, and everything you’ve earned and the struggles you have had,” he told the class.

Board of Education members Pam Holzhaeuser and Richard York presented diplomas to students. Frederick Phelps, class president, gave the closing remarks.

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