Summit High School’s Class of 2018 celebrates graduation
As fathers and mothers dabbed away tears, 194 Summit High seniors bid farewell to childhood and graduated into adulthood on Saturday. Some of these young men and women will remain in Summit County, some will travel to distant shores, but they will always remain Tigers at heart.
2018 has been a tough year to be a student, to say the very least. The tragedy of school shootings, teacher walkouts for adequate school funding, threats and evacuations have all been weighing on these young people’s minds throughout their senior year. A celebration of their hard work and success at SHS seemed a fitting way to honor their perseverance amid constant stress and heartache.
With green and white balloons lining the walls, hundreds of friends, family and well-wishers packed the SHS gymnasium bleachers. As graduates clapped and hooted at every mention of “2018,” principal Drew Adkins used the ongoing major construction at SHS as a way to advise graduates on how they should build their lives going forward. “In the bigger picture, aren’t our lives always under construction?” Adkins asked the crowd. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Taj Mahal wasn’t a fixer-upper. Similar to these classic achievements, the students of 2018 have taken the time and carefully constructed their pathways. Today, we want to proclaim their hard work from the rooftops.”
Summit School District superintendent Kerry Buhler, reminding everyone how we all dreamt about this special day when we started school as children, quoted advice to grads from Summit kindergarteners on their own long path to graduation.
“Make good decisions so your parents don’t get mad,” Buhler recited. “Obey the laws now that you’re adults. Make sure to listen, because people do have important things to say.”
Buhler ended with one of her favorite quotes from the book “Giraffes Can’t Dance,” by Giles Andreae.
“We can all dance if we find the music that you love. My hope for you is that you find the music that you love, that you dance and do what makes you happy.”
All-star graduate Priya Subberwahl used her student commencement address to describe the core of what made the class of 2018 so special.
“I will tell you that they are good,” Subberwahl said. “They are good at what they do, be it playing rugby, singing or acting in the theater, or serving our community. They are overwhelmingly good, and I am beyond lucky to have spent the past four years with them. It is this phenomenal goodness, the incredible kindness, with which they lead that will set them apart as they walk toward their futures.”
Retired Marine Staff Sgt. James Sides gave the commencement address. Sides spent 12 years in the Marines and was an explosive ordinance disposal technician in Iraq back in 2008, protecting his brothers from roadside bombs. Tragically, one of those bombs went off while he was working to disarm it.
Sides survived, but he severely injured his right arm and lost vision in one eye. Recovering from the physical and mental scars was one of the hardest battles Sides ever fought, but he managed to break through by discovering his love of snowboarding up here in the mountains. Sides trained hard and managed to be a part of the U.S. Paralympic snowboarding team in Pyeongchang this year.
Sides used his story as a way to tell the graduates to never let life’s curveballs, disappointments and failures stop or slow them down.
“Giving up is not an option,” Sides told the grads. “It’s up to you to recover, to learn from your failures, and to move forward. Attack life, and never give up.”
With those words in mind, students from the class of 2018 were recognized one-by-one as graduates who worked toward a crowning moment of their lives, taking the lessons from their own trials by fire to take the weight of the world on their shoulders. They look forward with a steely determination borne out of the need to grow up quickly, with some sure to become leaders and heroes to come back home and inspire the next generation to never give up and always move forward.
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