*This story first appeared in The Budget’s May 30, 2018, Local Edition.
By Beverly Keller
For the Class of 2018, Garaway’s graduation ceremony was memorable to say the least. First, it was a move from Sunday afternoon to Saturday night.
The original plan called for an outdoor ceremony at Burke Wentz Field. However, with turf installation in full swing the field was not available which was a blessing in disguise of sorts as the storms that rolled into the area on Saturday evening dropped several inches of rain and brought with them thunder, lightning and wind. The storms were so intense they knocked out electricity to the building a half dozen times while students gathered in the Middle School gym to wait for the march down to the High School gym.
Dawson Wade, the Class of 2018 president and co-valedictorian, challenged his fellow classmates to create their own mission statement to help guide their futures. “I know it’s graduation, and this sounds like another writing assignment, but I challenge you to take a moment out of your busy lives to simply reflect,” he said. “Contemplate the impact you want to leave on this world, put pen to paper, and keep the note close to your heart.”
Co-Salutatorian Jocelyn Miller talked about choices. “Over the years we have chosen our friends, chosen what activities and classes we wanted to be involved in and made choices about what we want for our futures,” she shared. “We can’t change the past, and we shouldn’t fear the future. We need to live each day in the present and choose to have a positive attitude. Choose to use setbacks and hardships to propel you forward and see them as a lesson rather than failure. Failure really is an important part of being successful.”
Fellow Co-Salutatorian Collin Hochstetler also addressed the class and over 1,000 people in attendance. “After 13 long years, I can’t believe that we’re finally here on our graduation night,” he shared. “It seems like such a short time ago I was getting ready for my first day of school, not wanting to let go of my mom’s hand at the door.”
He reminded his fellow classmates of the impact, intentional or not, that they have had on him. “The world is made up of people just like you and I, and every choice we make determines what kind of world we live in,” he stated.
Co-Valedictorian Karissa Weaver reflected on the hard work that has gone into becoming a graduate at Garaway. “We got here by hard work,” she said. “That’s what it took to graduate, hours of sitting, studying, reading, researching and, in our remaining hours, panicking about not doing enough of the same. These hours turned into days, days turned into months and months turned into years, many of which were passed with this glorious day in mind.”
She challenged her fellow graduates to look to the Lord for guidance because He had brought them all this far. “By God’s grace we’ve made it through,” she said. “May God Almighty lead us and uphold us with His own right hand as we step into our future.”
The Class of 2018 included a total of 16 students who had a 4.0 GPA or above. There were two valedictorians and two salutatorians. There were 31 members of the National Honor Society. A total of 19 students obtained a diploma with honors.