The 336 Graduates at the 50th Commencement Ceremony for Huron High School received one final lesson they were challenged to determine what they will stand up for to make the world a better place.
Giving the commencement address Humanities teacher Amy Van Appledorn shared some of her favorite individuals from throughout history such as Martin Luther, Socrates, Nelson Mandela, Claudette Colvin, and the school shooting survivors from Parkland, Florida. Van Appledorn said she stands for each of her students as a proud public school educator. Finally she urged the graduates to stand themselves. “Promise me that you will cherish your convictions, keep them pure and close to your heart,” Van Appledorn said. “Listen to your conscience, vote, participate, take care of this democracy, stay optimistic, know that integrity matters, dig deep, work hard, love big, forgive quickly, and always be able to say with conviction, here I stand, I can not do otherwise.”
Principal Dr. Janet Schwamb shared some of Oprah Winfrey’s advice on success in life, with the focus on working hard, staying positive, and not limiting yourself. Schwamb encouraged students to find their passion, and surround themselves with people that lift them. She said Huron is unique in the way the school embraces diversity and welcomes all, and the graduates will always take this with them. “Huron High School is a family, one very big family,” Schwamb said. “Once you’re a River Rat, you’re a River Rat for life.”
In showcasing the caring nature of the Huron staff, Gabrielle Forman highlighted Community Assistant Eric Noland for offering words of encouragement and sharing his own experiences as a River Rat alum. Forman presented the class message. She says that sense of caring became critical for the class of 2018 especially in their junior year with the passing of several high school students across Ann Arbor and the divisive political climate around the Presidential election. Forman encourages her classmates to take the lessons they learned about care at Huron with them. “Class of 2018, we will keep our heads up, treat others with kindness, and honor ourselves with love. It’s about compassion and empathy for others, about building and strengthening relationships, and about understanding privilege and the diverse circumstances of the other inhabitants of this great planet we all call home.”
While attention was paid to compassion and caring for others, Huron’s class of 2018 also has a strong academic performance to celebrate. Among the accolades the class can claim are 28 National Merit Finalists or Semi-Finalists, 7 Presidential Scholar Candidates, and 152 graduates with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
The ceremony included the premiere performance of the Huron Alma Mater “On the Banks of the Huron” written by Charles Berofsky and Mary Collins from the class of 2018, and Kaye Hoffmeyer class of 2019 in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Huron High School. The class will also be remembered for their gifts, several benches shaped like cheese blocks, and a statue of the Huron H to be placed in front of the building.
12 members of the Huron class of 2018 were also presented awards.
Paul K. Meyers Award: Claire Brinley and Kevin Tan
University of Michigan Citizenship Award: Mary Collins and Michaela Glenn
Martin Luther King, Jr. Award: Lauryn Fitzgerald and Charles Ramsey
Understanding and Sharing Diversity Award: Megan He and Austin Shepherd
Charles Baird Humanitarian Award: Christopher Zou and Sasha Rich
Dr. Arthur L. Williams Integrity Award: Charles Berofsky and Maranda Watts
Amy Van Appledorn’s Commencement address had me in tears, it was that powerful. I hope her speech can be made easily accessible to the public.