By MARCELLA PEYRE-FERRY
For 21st Century Media
EAST NOTTINGHAM - Students were the focus of the streamlined commencement ceremonies for the Oxford Area High School class of 2014 where, aside from brief remarks for Principal Christopher Dormer, the only speakers were students.
Class President Kaylee Goodwin was the first to speak and the first member of the class to receive her diploma. “Everyone standing here tonight has a bright future,” she began her recollection of some of the high points of the last four years. “It was our year to make memories to last a lifetime... Although many of us can’t wait to leave this town, we all know that deep down Oxford will be our home.”
Salutatorian Erin Reph’s address to the class and audience was based on a visit she made to the Kindergarten class. Like the book that professes that everything you need to know you learned in Kindergarten”, she found some sage advice from small voices. Some of the items are good for all ages such as “make sure you’re ready”, and “be nice to other students so they will be nice to you”. “Listen to the Kindergartner inside of you when things get tough,” Reph advised.
“Congratulations to all of you for making it to this milestone,” Valedictorian Brianne Roper began her remarks. She told the students that how they react to challenges is always important. “The person or thing we turn to in failure, shapes or defines us,” she said. As an example, she recalled an event when she was a new freshman and could not get her locker open at the end of the day no matter how many times she tired. She missed her bus, and her phone was locked in the locker. Finally she asked for help at the office and discovered she had been using the wrong combination. “The entire time I was convinced I was right. The only way I got out of that situation was by going to the right person to get the right answers,” she said.
Before the ceremony began, as the students were preparing to march to the Gymnasium, Roper and Reph were near the head of the line. “We’re a little nervous, its nothing that we cant handle,” Roper said. “I’m excited. I’m ready for this. We worked really hard and it will be great.”
Waiting to go in to receive their diplomas, the class of 2014 with filled with excitement and energy. Sarah Graff let some of that energy show with the words keep on smiling” pasted on the top of her white mortarboard. “My grandmother always tells me that my smile is my best thing. It’s like finding Nemo - just keep swimming - just keep smiling,” she said. “Yes, I’m finally here! It’s great! I don’t know how to explain it.”
Graduating senior Jacob Abrams put the feeling into his own words. “It’s sad that we know were not coming back,” he said. “It’s the start of our lives, so its a little scary, but I think we’ll all be fine.”