On the first day of their freshman year four years ago, Seymour High School’s Class of 2019 received some advice from Principal Greg Prange.
He told them they only had 720 school days before graduation arrived, and they should use that time wisely because it would be over before they realized it.
On Sunday afternoon, realization set in as the 355 graduating seniors received their diplomas during the school’s annual commencement ceremony in the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
“These years have flown by quickly,” Prange said. “Sometimes, the days are long, but the years are short.”
Prange acknowledged all of those who helped students along the way, including parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and faculty and staff at Seymour Community Schools.
He thanked the seniors for their leadership, scholarship and citizenship at SHS over the past four years but said high school should not be the best years of their lives.
“I do hope that today, while a major milestone, is not where you peak,” he said. “You have much to accomplish in life. Today is a steppingstone you must encounter to get you to the next level.”
Senior class Secretary Payton Reasoner welcomed and thanked those in attendance.
“I would like to thank all of you for the impact on our lives and in helping us to become the people we are today,” he said.
He also paid tribute to classmate Kelsey LaMaster, who died in a car wreck in April, by having a moment of silence to remember her.
“She may not be present today, but she will always be in our hearts,” he said.
Another graduate not in attendance was Noah Lee Nicholson, who currently is serving in the U.S. Marines. Nicholson graduated midterm to pursue his goals.
Although tears were shed by students and parents, graduation is not an end, but rather a beginning, Reasoner said.
“This is where your dreams, some you may have had your entire life, can begin to come to fruition,” he said.
And as graduates of SHS, those dreams can come true, as they have for alumni like former Miss America Katie Stam, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee John Mellencamp and Major League Baseball prospect Zack Brown.
“I specifically mention these three to highlight the fact that from these same humble beginnings in the hallways of Seymour High School, they were able to achieve at the highest level on the world’s stage relentlessly pursuing their passion in their chosen fields,” Reasoner said.
But there also are police officers and doctors, teachers and engineers, musicians and marines, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, all of whom have graduated from SHS.
“These achievements are no less notable, as they are also often the realization of a dream once dreamt in the small town of Seymour,” Reasoner said. “I hope that we will all rely on our faith, family and friends to help guide us as we continue to follow our dreams.”
Reaching those dreams will not come without sacrifice, hard work and determination, he said.
“Collectively and individually, we have already achieved so much,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what the Class of 2019 will do next.”
Class Vice President and Salutatorian Emma Ramp said it was hard to believe graduation is already here, but she already knows she and her classmates are “outstanding” for their many academic, athletic and philanthropic achievements throughout the past four years.
“May our successes motivate us to continue to do extraordinary things in the future,” she said. “We are an amazing class, graduating from SHS branded with knowledge and skills to benefit us far into the future.”
Ramp said one of the hardest lessons she learned in high school was to always be kind to others and to forgive and forget.
“Let go of petty differences and stop holding grudges,” she said. “This lesson applies to friendships you may have now and those you may make in the future. Be quick to forgive.”
Another lesson Ramp said she learned in high school is not to dwell on things.
“Instead, let go of those regrets and hold onto memories, big and small,” she said. “Hold onto the late nights, food runs, big games, parties, smiles and laughs. One day, you will look back on your life and realize that it has become just a collection of memories.”
But by far, the most important lesson she learned is to make the days count.
“Your time as a teenager is short. Your time in high school is short. Your time as a college student is short. Life itself is short,” she said. “We spend so much time preparing for the future, we often forget to embrace the present.”
Students should take advantage of their youth now, she said.
“As you go off to college or start a career or do whatever you want to do, remember to make the days count,” she said. “Travel, go out with your friends for the third night in a row, buy tickets to the playoff game, take the job in the big city, eat the extra slice of pizza and just live.”
Class President and Valedictorian Delaney Cummings said while in high school, she discovered her passion for philanthropy. In her four years, she has been a part of Riley Dance Marathon and has helped raise more than $50,000 for Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
Although Cummings has found her passion, she also knows she and her classmates are unsure about where those passions will take them.
“I hope to express to you that as we leave high school, we have the freedom and the responsibility to decide what we want to do, who we want to be and how we engage in our life pursuits,” she said.
No matter what that path may be, college, the military or the workforce, Cummings said she hopes it is one of their creation and that it brings them happiness, freedom and pleasure.
But they must be willing to give something in return, she said.
“It is our responsibility to offer to the world our hard work, dedication and passion in a manner that benefits the whole of society,” she said. “None of us can really do that if we aren’t true to what lies within us.”
Cummings said all of the choices they have made up to this point have helped develop their character for better or for worse.
“Every moment of our education has shaped us into who we are today,” she said. “Every moment of our lives has led us here. Every choice we have made has brought us closer to our own passionate paths.”