By Melissa Gilmour
On Sunday May 14, Licking High School welcomed the class of 2017 into their alumni as 63 students received their diplomas. The Sherman Hill Fieldhouse was filled with friends, family, and facility in support of these students who would now end their high school studies to break out into the world on the path of their choice. The ceremony kicked off with special music performed by the Licking High School Concert Band with the piece Canto composed by W. Francis McBeth and directed by Ms. Cathy Payton. The students made their way to the front of the auditorium as the band played the traditional Pomp and Circumstance by Sir Edward Elgar. As the graduates were seated, the Licking High School Concert Choir performed the piece The Parting Glass, arranged by Audrey Snider and directed by Ms. Briana Adams. Following their performance, the Catabellas presented their rendition of The Climb, arranged by Deke Sharon and also directed by Ms. Briana Adams.
The keynote speaker was Paul Richardson, pastor at Licking Assembly of God, who shared with the students “four keys for thriving after high school.” Pastor Richardson spoke to the senior class with great compassion as he shared his advice for getting the most out of life, despite its inherent difficulties. The first key is to celebrate the wins. “If you want to thrive after High School, celebrate life’s wins. There will be both good and bad times in your life. That is why it is important to celebrate the wins along the way. Today is one of those wins. Graduating High School is a great thing,” Pastor Richardson told the students, “As life goes on, celebrate your wins. If you don’t celebrate you may find yourself looking back, thinking of the moments you missed and can never get back.” Pastor Richardson also gave three addition keys to the students: Lea
rn from life’s failures, never stop growing, and give yourself to something or someone bigger than yourself. “Whatever you do, remember this principle: You will find more fulfillment in life by giving to others than you will taking from them.”
After Pastor Richardson spoke, Salutatorian Mackenzie Whitaker introduced Kailie Kinder who led the auditorium in moving and thoughtful prayer. Whitaker began her speech with a throwback rhyme about
graduating set to the tune of the theme song of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. With laughs from the audience and class, Whittaker went on to talk about her experience in school and how grateful she was to be a part of such a great class.
Ms. Hannah Creek, this year’s Valedictorian, followed Whitaker in addressing the class. Creek shared with the audience some memories that make her years at Licking unforgettable. Creek shared a prank that they pulled on a substitute teacher in the sixth grade. Two classes decided to switch places, one at a time. Each student would raise their hand, ask to use the restroom, and then switch places with the student from the other class. By the end of the shenanigans, nearly the entire class had been switched without the teacher knowing, until Sunday. All jokes and humor aside, Creek thanked her classmates for the memories and wished her class all the best.
Mrs. Janell Duncan presented the class with their awards and scholarships. Eight students graduated as members of the National Honor Society and four students had enough credits to graduate midterm. Dr. John Hood, Superintendent of Schools, announced the awards and honors. Mr. Grant Crow, High School Principal, and Mr. Brad Smith, President of the Board of Education, presented the class of 2017 with their diplomas.
With diplomas in hand, the senior class took their first steps out into the world. As Pastor Paul told the students “Life is hard, it is long. But life is also fun and rewarding. Whatever tomorrow holds for all of us, remember that you and I must celebrate our wins, learn from our mistakes, grow as individuals, and give the best of ourselves to those around us. Class of 2017, congratulations on your wonderful achievement.”