On to the rest of their lives

Plymouth High School Class of 2018 celebrates Commencement at City Park ceremony
Story by
Jamie Piontkowski
Review photos by Emmitt B. Feldner

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Plymouth High School graduated 206 students June 3 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 Choir, directed by Amanda Smith, sang “I’ll Always Remember You” arranged by Patsy Ford Simms.

Elizabeth Welsch, president of the PHS National Honor Society, welcomed those gathered and later directed students to shift their tassels. Class president Klairice Schwartz gave the closing remarks.

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Amanda Krueger, Student Council president. She also announced the new inductees to the Plymouth High School Alumni Hall of Fame:Ralph C. Stayer and Allen Nohl.

PHS Principal Jennifer Rauscher explained the school’s cum laude system and the different color stolls worn by students: bronze for cum laude, silver for magna cum laude and gold for summa cum laude, the highest recognition. She also shared the poem “Vocation Blessing” by Sister Ita Ford.

Dr. Rauscher introduced the class exemplar, Klairice Schwartz, chosen by a panel of adults to represent the Class of 2018 based on her stellar academic work, extensive extracurricular involvement, and leadership skills.

Klairice said she initially planned to offer a math analogy, but instead decided to focus on the importance of community. “The benches you are all sitting on would be empty, this stage would be vacant, and the streets surrounding this park clear of cars without community,” she told her classmates.

Community is the constant in life, Klairice said. She noted that their journey thus far and moving forward could be looked at as a continuous equation, the sum of experiences, teachers, and friendships.

“The outcome of the equation attached to each of us as Plymouth graduates, no matter where we are going, is that we will impact the community we become a part of, adding our skills, our splash of color, and our mark, wherever we land,” she said.

Superintendent Carrie Dassow congratulated the graduates and thanked the families, teachers, staff, and community for their support of the students. “Whatever your path, it is my hope that the Plymouth School District has provided a place for you over the past years to gain the knowledge, the skills, the confidence, and the courage to approach your future with a spirit of hope to achieve your dreams,” she said.

Dr. Dassow also introduced the commencement speaker chosen by the seniors, Mary Strong, PHS language arts teacher and yearbook advisor for the past 19 years.

Ms. Strong, who is leaving PHS, noted that, like the graduates, she is beginning a new phase of her life. “We are standing at the precipice of our next adventure,” she told the graduates. “We are both ending and beginning today!”

To help guide the graduates, Ms. Strong offered her Top Ten Life Lessons:

· Number 10: Respect your fears: Acknowledge your fears, but don’t let the fear of failing or disappointing others stop you.

· Number 9: Don’t try to be clever when you should be wise: If you are wise you will know when it’s appropriate to be clever and when it’s not.

· Number 8: Don’t make excuses: No one cares why you didn’t; they only care when you do, so show up.

· Number 7: Be silly, be kind, be honest: Don’t be afraid to be silly. Be kind to yourself. Most importantly, always be honest with yourself.

· Number 6: Learn from your mistakes: Learn lessons from your mistakes, the first being to not make the same mistake twice - that’s stupidity, and I didn’t teach any fools.

· Number 5: Don’t settle for almost right: You only cheat yourself when you justify that which isn’t totally right for you.

· Number 4: Wake up every morning as if something wonderful is going to happen:While unfortunately you won’t get to spend part of your day in my classroom any more, there is still a world of wonderful out there for you.

· Number 3: All the universe conspires to help you achieve your goal: Go through life confidently knowing the universe wants you to win, wants you to achieve, and you will - if you trust your instincts and listen to the messages.

· Number 2: Enjoy the journey: Shortcuts may get you to your destination faster, but you’ve missed the adventure.

· Number 1: Make your life colorful: Life is … a box with 64 Crayolas and a sharpener in the back.

Use them as a child does - with a glazed look of wonder when they are new, but not afraid to break a tip or tear back the paper to sharpen one.

To assist with the final Life Lesson, Ms. Strong left each graduate a box of crayons under his or her seat.

“Take what you have learned and use it, change it, embellish on it,” she told the Class of 2018.

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