Story, photos, video and slideshow by Jo Mathis
AAPS District News Editor
Huron High School graduates are ready to take their places in the world, Superintendent Jeanice Swift said Wednesday night at the school’s 48th commencement ceremony.
“It is abundantly clear to me and to all of us gathered here today that you emerge from a mighty and powerful place: Huron High School,” Swift told the 339 graduates whose friends and family looked down from the bleachers at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center.
Highlights of the evening included performances by the school’s symphony band and a cappella choir, a class message from senior Olivia Greenspan, and a lively presentation of diplomas. Senior Taylor Adams earned hearty applause for her performance of “Climb Every Mountain.”
Commencement speaker Peter Collins described the situations of a handful of students who have suffered hardships in the past few years, and noted that he’s convinced they’re going to “be all right in life.”
Some of the stories were too personal and painful to recite from the podium, he said, adding that those students who have overcome so much know who they are and that they, too, are going to be all right.
Collins said there are a lot of things in America that need to be fixed, and that Huron graduates are now armed with diplomas from one of the top public high schools in the country. He reminded them that a diploma is not just a piece of paper, but that it represents their intelligence, diligence, hard work, moxie, friends and family.
When times get tough, he said: “You hold onto that diploma and you remember that Mr. Collins said, `You’re going to be all right in life,’” he said.
Many dozens of students were honored for their excellence in achievement and citizenship.
“Huron’s class of 2016 is indeed a distinguished class,” Principal Janet Schwamb said, asking groups of students to stand and be recognized.
Schwamb also acknowledged the service of retiring faculty and staff John Birko; John Borovsky; Patricia Carden; Linda Jeffries; and Darlene Tankersley.
Before the presentation of diplomas, Swift reminded the graduates that they have exactly what they need to find their unique place in the world.
“Huron graduates, it is true as much today as at anytime before that our world needs you,” she said. “We need you. We need you in your particular place. We need your passion connected to purpose, your brilliance, your energy, your talent, and your vision. No one else can fill the one place where the world has a gap shaped just like you. That open space is waiting, even now, for your arrival.”
Schwamb urged students to go into unexplored territory, find your passion, dream big, believe in and be true to yourself, be courageous, set goals, and work hard to reach them. She reminded the graduates that this year’s yearbook is titled, “On Our Way,” and quoted Muhammad Ali, who said: “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.”
“You are all certainly on your way!” she said. “Congratulations to the class of 2016!”
One thing—or three things, actually—were missing from an otherwise picture-perfect event. Huron’s graduation processional is typically led by the first student wearing a pair of rat ears representing the beloved team mascot, while the final student—whose name inevitably ends in Z—wears the tail.
Alas, the costumes could not be located, which was a disappointment to Lucas Zuleta, who said he would have considered it an honor to keep the tradition going.
“We’ll have them back next year,” promised Assistant Principal Marcus Edmondson, with a smile. “It’s important!”
Following the ceremony, graduate Anna Lee told the AAPS District News that the last four years have been quite a journey. “I started off high school only knowing my friends from Forsythe, and I ended it with a family of about 350 people,” she said. “There are no words to really explain how great it was to get to know the students of my class and bond with them over the many academics and social activities at school.”
Anna said she was also grateful to have found a family within her larger family: the Health and Medicine Magnet.
“This class has been my foundation from sophomore to senior year, and I will never forget my Bradley family and all they’ve done for me,” said Anna, who will be part of the University of Michigan’s Women in Science and Engineering Residential Program in the fall. “When seeing everyone at commencement in their cap and gowns, it finally hit me that this is it. This would be the last time that I’ll see some of my classmates, and that high school was really coming to an end. When Nadina gave the class message, it felt so surreal to think that we were all about to begin the next chapter in our lives.”
The processional and the cap toss/recessional follow: