River Rats set sail at 47th annual commencement

Story and photos by Jo Mathis

AAPS District News Editor

Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center was the setting for Huron High School’s 47th commencement, an inspiring two-hour ceremony that honored each graduating River Rat setting sail for new adventures.

The 368 seniors walked to their seats to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” performed by Huron’s Symphony Orchestra, then listened to students and dignitaries wish them well.

Principal Jennifer Hein encouraged the graduates to use their creativity and throw their hearts and minds into everything they do; to use their ability to listen and work with others; to be bold, but helpful.

“Remember that to be able to grow and excel and be successful means that you have learned that failure could be the most important part of your journey,” she said. “Use your sense of humor and your intelligence as a shield against the thoughtlessness and the cruelty of others. Life is not a selfie. Look through your eyes instead of your iPhone.”

She said the evening wasn’t just about goodbyes.

“It’s an evening full of hope and excitement about your future,” she said. “It’s time for us to watch you sail away. We’re looking forward to seeing you in a year and hearing about your journey.”

Graduate Laura Kanji said the night marked the beginning of an exciting but uncertain future.

“The world’s problems can sometimes seem overwhelming with our generation facing major issues in all areas of life,” she said. “But I hope that we can face these problems with courage rather than despair.”

She said the class of 2015 has an obligation to work towards finding meaningful solutions, remembering that small things can make a big impact.

English teacher Sean Eldon, who was selected by students to give the commencement address, said the graduates represent all the characters of great literature, from Puck to Juliet to Atticus.

“Literature has taught me that there really is a character that everyone can relate to and learn from, and life is really just a matter of being aware of your own character and finding the right characters to surround yourself with,” he said. “Because unlike all the literary characters I mentioned, your character is not a work of fiction. Your character is real. And after all the grades are tallied, and the accomplishments are listed, after the awards are won, character is the one thing you take from high school that transcends everything else.”

Superintendent Jeanice Swift told graduates that she celebrates their individual stories, the challenges they’ve overcome, the journeys they’ve taken, and the paths they’ll pursue to find the profound places they’ll fill in the world.

“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—and tonight you have absolutely everything it takes to find your one place, unique in all the world,” she said. “We are proud today of the places you will discover, and the notable achievements you will realize.”

The 2015 graduating class included:

  • 55 students with a career GPA for seven semesters of 3.9 and above
  • Eight with a GPA of 4.0
  • 100 students on the annual honor roll for four years
  • 115 seniors in the National Honor Society
  • Graduates who’ll go on to attend dozens of colleges and universities, from American University of Paris to Yale, as well as those who will enter the U.S. Army and U. S. Naval Academy

The following students were honored with citizenship awards:

  • Dr. Arthur L Williams Integrity Award: Deja Redding and Owen Hurley
  • Charles Baird Humanitarian Award: Isabell Mitchell and Allen Chang
  • Understanding and Sharing Diversity Award: Tiana Coles and Edzang Mbala Nkanga
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Award: Cymore Croft and Khari Hutchings
  • University of Michigan Citizenship Award: Nadio Auchus and Malay Mody
  • Paul K. Meyers Award: Ava Jetli and Landon Piazza

In his address, Sean Eldon told the graduates that teachers tend to have good instincts.

“And instinct is telling me that you’re going to be all right,” he said. “Just keep writing your story. And make it a great one.”



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