By Andrew Cluley/Video by Jo Mathis
Senior Michael Parrott said nothing was going to stop him from delivering the Skyline High School Class of 2017 Message at Commencement. He followed through on that, even though a power failure last night delayed the ceremony, and left him speaking under only the emergency lighting at the EMU Convocation Center. But Parrott’s message highlighted that the energy, enthusiasm and compassion of his classmates makes anything possible.
For Parrott this includes the transformation from a shy, nervous freshman that let his lack of confidence keep him from joining any clubs, to a senior active in numerous organizations, voted prom king and selected to give his class message. He says this journey started with three students he didn’t really know convincing him to run for representative of the Student Action Senate. Parrot says winning that election wasn’t the important aspect. “What truly mattered is that was the first instance I became exposed to the heart of Skyline,” He says. “One bursting with students and staff who encourage all of us to give it our best.”
This type of support and kindness from students is an important reason why Parrott thinks Skyline students are willing to try new activities and join a variety of clubs. “Students at this school care, they care not just about their academics and well-being, but about each other,” he says. “Teachers care about bringing their “A” game each and every day. Administrators care about being there when we need it most.”
Parrot believes Skyline is unique for a high school in terms of this environment, and he’s excited about the positive influence the Class of 2017 will have in the world. “That’s why I’m here tonight, the once shy and little me, speaking for all 365 of you and your families, because I know you support me, I know we support each other, I know that wherever we go tomorrow we are going to take that same spirit with us and support our new peers,” Parrot says. “Because that’s who we are, we’re a group of helping hands who constantly sees the good in others, and strives to push it up as far as we can.
Principal Cory McElmeel is hopeful the class of 2017 can use what they’ve learned at Skyline and their caring attitude to help end the divisiveness that has swept across the country. McElmeel says this isn’t a political statement. “I see human decency, acceptance, diversity, equity, I see embracing each other for the individuals that we are, the love of man and womankind as beyond politics,” he says. “I see these actions as our moral imperatives.”
As a final lesson McElmeel reminded the Skyline graduates that when it comes to making a positive difference attendance matters, that learning is done to master a skill not for a grade, and that individuality, not just copying what others have done, is what will lead to a positive future. He adds that even if members of the Class of 2017 fail a test of character, they still can redeem themselves. “We all need the mastery approach from time to time, humans are far from perfect.” McElmeel says. “But Class of 2017 you still have a chance to master the skills necessary to empower our local and global communities through unity. You still have a chance to demonstrate mastery, you will get that re-take.”
As a way to thank the Skyline community, the Class of 2017 is combining with last year’s graduates to give a statue of an American Eagle to sit in front of the school. The school’s mascot has keen vision and is fearless and the statue is designed watch over Skyline to remind students to grace every day with agile minds, big hearts and deep questions.