ONAWAY - With a turn of their tassels and a toss of their mortarboards, the Class of 2012 became the 104th group of seniors to graduate from Onaway High School Sunday.
The high school gymnasium was packed that afternoon with friends and family, as well as the seniors themselves. After hearing an introduction from Principal Marty Mix, Superintendent Rod Fullerton told the students they will be remembered more for their attitudes than themselves, so they need to make sure to have a good one even in the face of the challenges ahead.
After quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Fulghum's poem, "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten," Fullerton became emotional while quoting "Turn Loose the Horses," a song by Garrett Hedlund.
News Photo by Jordan Travis
Onaway High School teacher Kelly Moran gives a lily to a member of the Class of 2012 right after he received his diploma Sunday afternoon. He was one of 50 to graduate.
"Take time to take in the setting sun, throw back a keeper just to watch them swim, forgive your enemies and love your friends," he said.
Then, honor student Christian Tollini spoke about what's ahead and what he and his fellow students just went through.
"We learned a lot in high school about math and English, but we also learned about growing up," he said.
After advising the class of 2013 to make the most of their last year and not let the stress get to them, he reminded his classmates not to forget what will soon be behind them.
"Remember who you are and where you came from," he said. "You are an Onaway Cardinal. Have pride in yourself, your friends and this community."
Salutatorian Brooklynn Szymoniak began her speech by stating, you're never too old for recess. She recalled a group of seniors who went to play on their school playground one last time. She read a verse from Ecclesiastes urging everyone to enjoy their youth and follow their heart's desires, and reminded them that the school wouldn't be the same without the legacies they'll leave behind.
Szymoniak also recalled some "only in Onaway" moments, including pranks and Senior Skip Day activities. The final one was more serious.
"Only in Onaway are a special breed of heroes born with a passion to pursue their wildest dreams, and they all start in the same place: the playground," she said.
Faith Chapman and Kyle Moreau were the Valedictorians, and Chapman opened by thanking everyone; her parents, her friends, strangers and the whole Class of 2012. She quoted Tom Bodett, who said the difference between school and life is that in school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test.
"In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson," she said.
Moreau spoke about some of the events of 2012, including the predicted collapse of global financial markets and the end of the world itself.
"I'm standing here before you today to say, the world isn't ending, we're just taking over," he said.
After the 50 students crossed the stage and received their diplomas, along with two from the Cheboygan-Otsego-Presque Isle Educational Services District, Mix gave the just-graduated the order to turn their tassels. A combination mortar board-toss and Silly String fight ensued.
After the commotion, Julie Kortman said she was excited to see her daughter Tiffany graduate.
"I was sad when I saw the baby pictures," she said, referring to a slide show featuring a then-and-now lineup of the senior class.
"She's my third child to graduate, so I did a lot better this time," Kortman said. "The first two, I balled my eyes out."
Tiffany said she's excited to be finished, and a little bit scared, too.
"Because, I don't know. I don't know!" she said.
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