Pomp and circumstance: WHS graduates 177 seniors

WORTHINGTON -- Excitement filled the air as 177 seniors processed into the Worthington High School gym Friday evening to celebrate WHS's 129th commencement. Attired in black robes and red stoles -- often accented with gold or white honor cords --...

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Members of the Worthington High School Class of 2016 look on during Friday’s commencement exercises. (Tim Middagh/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Excitement filled the air as 177 seniors processed into the Worthington High School gym Friday evening to celebrate WHS’s 129th commencement.
Attired in black robes and red stoles - often accented with gold or white honor cords - the seniors took their places facing a stage decorated with Gerbera daisies (the class flower) and traditional black, red and silver streamers and balloons.
Following a rousing prelude by the Trojan Band under the direction of Jon Loy, Principal Josh Noble welcomed the audience.
Prior to the ceremony, Noble reflected on this, his first year as principal at the high school level.
“My first year at Worthington High School has been great,” Noble said. “I have really enjoyed the new challenge. I have known many of the students from the class of 2016 since their years in elementary school.
“I have been truly blessed to be able to watch them grow into kind, compassionate and driven young men and women,” he continued. “It is exciting to think about all of the great things these individuals will do in the future as they move on with their lives after graduation.”
The graduates were eager to begin their march as the band began the fanfare and then launched into the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance.” Descending the north and south stairs in tandem and meeting in the center, they then processed to the front of the gym to take their seats.

Senior members of the Concert Choir, under the direction of Kerry Johnson, then sang the National Anthem, followed by an introduction of the school board from John Landgaard, superintendent of School District 518.
“We often don’t tell you we’re proud of you and we need to do that more,” said Landgaard. “So congratulations and enjoy the evening.”
Speaking before the ceremony, Landgaard said, “This is one of the largest graduating classes we’ve had in the 13 years I’ve been here in Worthington. We are pleased that the students have met the requirements of our school, and we always wish the young men and women the best of luck in the next phase of their lives.”
“Fanfare and Flourishes,” performed by the band, next led to student speakers Paige Stewart and Meredith Moore, chosen after submitting a speech and enduring a review process by Lakeyta Potter, Kris Besel and Noble. Both used sports themes to tie their speeches together.
Stewart, quoting from recently retired University of Minnesota head football coach Jerry Kill, referred to three of the seven core “bricks” through which he said a championship team is made. Stewart chose preparation, intelligence, and commitment as the three bricks upon which to focus.
“You don’t build a championship team by taking the easy route. It takes preparation. Intelligence. Commitment,” Stewart quoted Kill as saying. Then, adding in her own words, “These three qualities are what have molded us into the people we are today and are what will help us in all our future endeavors.”
“We are the championship team, and we will continue to be so long after we walk out of these doors for the final time,” Stewart concluded.
Moore used running as an analogy for life.
“In some ways, running a race is similar to our past 13 years,” said Moore. “Our elementary school days were our warm-ups. …Middle School represented the ‘awkward’ few minutes before a competition begins … and finally, BAM! The gun goes off and the long-awaited high school race commenced.
“As long as we are all true to our own values and never stop striving for achievement, we will finish our individual races successfully. ... It’s time for us to tie on our running shoes,” Moore concluded.
Following the student speeches, the senior members of the choir sang “I Lived.” Patrick Mahoney, WHS Social Studies teacher, then gave the commencement address, “The History of You.” His speech, filled with humor and historical references, kept the students and crowd attentive.
“Now I am aware that it seems like reflecting on history on a day that is so focused on the future may seem a bit backwards,” Mahoney said, “but asking the question ‘why history’ is an important one regardless of the day.
“An explanation we often come to in my classes is that history is to society what memory is to the individual,” Mahoney continued. “That history helps provide us lessons in right and wrong, helps us to make sense of the world around us and provides us a sense of identity. An individual stripped of their memory finds the world a confusing place, and a graduating class with no sense of history is unaware of where they came from and where they are going.”
Citing Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and even Katy Perry, Mahoney pointed out that those famous people faced bumps in the road but prevailed despite them. Their keys to success were varied, but Mahoney offered one key that can’t be lived without.
“I believe the key to the rest of your success is the good people you surround yourself with,” Mahoney said. “When you receive your diploma on stage today, you will not be alone. You will be joined with not just teachers and administrators but all of the people that have helped you along the way. Parents, friends, siblings, directors, mentors, paras, goofy but well-intentioned history teachers ... continue collecting these good people.”
Conversely, said Mahoney, “You can be just as greatly affected by your negative influences as your positive ones. Choose your company carefully.”
Concluding his words of wisdom, Mahoney said, “The better we understand where we have been the clearer we see what lies ahead. ... Your future history is in your hands, make it one worth studying.”
Graduates were announced this year by their senior homeroom advisors. As the graduates received their diplomas a photo of each one, together with a school board member, was taken by Rickers Photography. They then had their tassels switched from left to right and Potter, the senior class adviser, handed them each a Gerbera daisy.
The class motto, a quote from Malala Yousafzi, is: “When the world is silent, even one voice is powerful,” was chosen by class officers and voted on by the entire class.
Senior class officers for the class of 2016 were Arleny Campillo, President; Christopher Mayorga, Secretary; Patricia Marin, Treasurer.
One day prior to the evening’s events, the ALC graduated 26 students, with 19 walking in the ceremony. Lori Dudley, Vice Chairman of the school board, commented, “Their stories are amazing, their walk proud, their journeys unbelievable. The staff and administration are very proud of these students. I never leave dry-eyed. These two evenings are my favorite part of being on the school board.”


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