The Brownstown Central High School Class of 2019 had to endure a lot over the years, including the death of a classmate — not unlike many of the 136 classes that have come before.
But unlike many of most of those previous classes, they didn’t have to endure sweltering heat and humidity during the nearly hourlong commencement exercise. That’s thanks to a school board decision to air condition the gymnasium a couple of years ago.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
That decision even drew a thanks from Principal Joe Sheffer as he, Assistant Principal Mark DeHart and Interim Superintendent Jade Peters prepared to pass out diplomas to the 130 seniors Saturday morning.
After the high school band played the National Anthem and the class entered the gymnasium to the processional “Pomp and Circumstance,” senior Ethan Bundy thanked everyone from the school board to the parents to the teachers for getting the class to the point of graduation.
“These past four years, you have shaped us to be the young adults that sit before you today, ready to take on the world,” he said. “Because of all of you, we have learned the value of work ethic, determination and have gained the strength to make it through the lows of life.”
Bundy gave his classmates a piece of advice about getting through each day.
“Every day, you are given 86,400 seconds,” he said. “Don’t let something that takes only 10 seconds ruin the other precious 86,390.”
Senior Cassidy Isaacs said many of her classmates will go on to college or trade school, while others will be tackling the workforce through training and various certifications. Still others will be brave and courageous and fight for their country.
“For that, we thank you,” she said. “But for all of us, change will be of the essence. A change in routines, in our relationships and in our goals.”
She also had some words of encouragement for her classmates.
“Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be,” she said. That’s a quote Isaacs said she has found herself living by recently.
Senior Claire Poulton said while it’s sad to be closing this chapter in their lives, it’s time to turn the page and start a whole new series.
“It’s scary, I know, but it’s a change I believe every single one of us is ready to make,” she said. “I mean, we aren’t the first class ever to graduate, and everyone else survived this transition, right?”
While a little terrifying, it’s also freeing to know she and her classmates will be soon be making their own decisions about everything, Poulton said.
“We have a chance to start fresh and pave our path to whatever we’d like to accomplish,” she said.
Poulton also took time to remember a classmate, Cameron Riley, who didn’t make it to graduation, and two other Brownstown Central students, freshmen Nevaeh Law and Brittany Watson, who died in a tragic wreck along with two Seymour teens near Cortland in the summer of 2018.
“Although only some of us were close with him, it’s heartbreaking to know that he couldn’t make it here with us today to receive his diploma,” Poulton said of Riley, who died in 2017.
“I’m sure Cam is here with us in spirit and is greatly missed by everyone,” she said.
Poulton also led a brief moment of prayer for all three students.
The temperature at 10 a.m. when commencement began was 81 degrees, but it was a lot cooler inside.
That fact wasn’t lost on graduate Derrick Prewitt.
“It was very nice,” he said. “I was in the band, so I have had to play at every graduation.”
Prewitt, who plans to go college for studio engineering now that he has his diploma, said he was glad his high school days are over.
“I love music,” he said. “It’s something that means a lot to me.”
Classmate Haley Reedy said she thought the air conditioning was great and couldn’t believe that graduation had finally come and gone.
“It’s been a long, long time,” she said.
Reedy said she plans to pursue a career in nursing that begins with going to Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus.
Although this was just the 56th class to graduate from Brownstown Central High School, there have been 137 classes graduate since the first commencement at Brownstown High School in 1881. There were four members in that first class.