Story and photos by Andrew Cluley, Video by Jo Mathis
Like driving a car alone for the first time, Skyline High School’s class of 2019 were told at their commencement ceremony that graduation is a mix of euphoric freedom and the fear of expanding responsibility. Principal Cory McElmeel urged the 345 graduates to celebrate not just this moment of graduation, but also remember the moments, the people, and the actions that led to it.
McElmeel shared, “The road is open, taking us anywhere we want to go, but not without the fear of the unknown in the back of our minds,” He said. “You’ll never quite feel anything like tonight again. It will be a memory that you hold, that you feel forever.”
The memory of big events, like graduation, McElmeel says always stick with you, but he asked the graduates to not rush to get the next big thing. “As you take your journey, cherish each moment as a step towards something greater, honor each connection with those that love and care about you, and make choices that get you closer to your biggest dreams and loftiest goals,” he said. “If you hit a surprise turn or an unexpected pothole on your life’s road, learn from it and keep going. Life’s more about the journey than the destination anyway.”
Through academics, participating in clubs and sports Royal Caswell said he had a positive experience at Skyline. His journey led him from not imaging he would speak at graduation to asking to give the class message. Caswell credited his growth in three areas to his success. First, he urged his classmates to work on keeping life balanced. Spending time on academics, with friends, doing activities and work. Then he recommended taking time to meet and listen to people that have different viewpoints. Finally, Caswell wanted his classmates to work on controlling what they can, and understanding there are some things you can’t control.
As the class of 2019 was about to receive their diplomas, Superintendent Jeanice Swift shared her words of wisdom. Swift said this class of students born at the start of the new century and in the months just before and after the September 11 attacks has grown in an age of big events and rapid change. She added Skyline’s motto of “Agile Minds, Big Hearts, Deep Questions,” represented well the class of 2019’s preparation for facing adulthood. “I know you will not fear the future because just like you arrived in 2000, 2001, you came here to shape it,” Swift said. “So tonight you have absolutely everything it takes, take a deep breath, hold your head high and move forward in confidence. You will impact our world in positive and profound ways.”
The class of 2019 will leave a lasting mark on Skyline High School with the gift of an interactive mural of an eagle. In the future students will be able to take photos with the eagle’s wings appearing to grow from them. The graduates hope this will remind students that eagles have keen vision and are fearless, tenacious, risk-takers.
Photo highlights below.