The air was charged with hope as West Liberty's graduates entered the room Sunday, May 25. The crowd filled the auditorium, applauding the future passing before them.
As the class of 2014 walked in to “Pomp and Circumstance”, the story of their journey was the focus of the afternoon. Taking their seats for the last time as Comets, they looked forward.
“A Chinese philosopher once wrote that the journey of a million miles begins with one step,” said Principal Hamilton. "Our class will continue in those steps."
For some, the shock of the day never really wore off. Jaime Nino was in awe of his own feat, something he thought would never happen.
"It's an accomplishment for me, I didn't think I was going to make it," he said after the ceremony. "But I feel really good." He plans to attend Tulsa Welding School.
Others just seemed glad to be at the end of their high school journey. "I guess it's over," said Octavio Vargas, "I knew I was going to make it."
The concert band led the festivities with the National Anthem and "Novo Lenio," a long and progressive piece that matched the thunderous applause of the crowd by its end.
Next, the show choir took stage left, leading in a piece written and composed by graduate Grace Millage. Minutes later she was on stage talking to her classmates.
"I don't know all of you super well, but I know you're all capable of great things," she said. "Your success story goes on to the next page."
Graduate Elliot Henderson followed with a speech of his own, highlighting his fast trip through West Liberty High school.
"Could we just rewind maybe a few days, weeks, months…years?" he asked.
The speed of life hung over many of the graduates' heads. It was a day of celebration, but it was also a day to realize that the last four years were over.
"It's been a lot faster than I thought it would be," said Maggie Mathias after graduation. "I literally remember the first day of high school." She plans on going to Kirkwood, then to Iowa State for Animal Science.
Before handing out diplomas, Principal Hamilton took time to honor the accomplishments of the class of 2014, including Dual Language graduates, those who have been in the DL program since Kindergarten.
After gathering those of academic excellence, students who had achieved a 4.00 GPA, it was time to name names.
Elliot Henderson was named the salutatorian while Riley Anderson was given the honor of valedictorian for the class of 2014.
Hamilton took the next few moments to give his own thoughts on West Liberty High School, a place he believes takes education beyond the requirements of Washington, D. C.
"In addition to learning, I think school is a place for joy," he added. Then, with a chuckle, he recalled the senior prank, which involved parking a giant tractor in his parking spot at the school.
Michelle Garcia, one of the day's graduates, was short on words but not on joy. When asked if she had any advice for future classes she was quick to respond:
"Just keep on trying."
After the end of the ceremony the class of 2014 scattered throughout the school, throughout the lawn, then throughout West Liberty. Days later, many were gone, ready to take the next step in their journey.
They made it!Jacob Lane · Wednesday, May 28, 2014