Hiland Class of 2024 ready to make an immediate impact

Hiland Class of 2024 ready to make an immediate impact
Dave Mast

The Hiland graduates launch their mortarboards to the heavens in celebrating their final act of of their high school careers.


If the weather on Hiland High School’s graduation day is indicative of their future, then their world looks full of bright possibilities.

On Sunday, May 19, 76 HHS graduates crossed the stage to receive their diplomas, ushering in a new world of possibilities. Graduates Gweneth Favia and Zach Gingerich provided the invocation and welcome, and after a performance by the Hiland concert band of the song “How To Train Your Dragon,” salutatorian Ashley Mullet provided some words of wisdom from her 12 years growing up as a Hiland student, presenting the hope she has for her classmates and her gratitude to the community.

“Along with the students, the teachers here at Hiland who have poured themselves into me as an individual will leave a lasting impression on my life and could not be more grateful. I believe our class can make a difference. Even though we live in a special area, there is still room to grow and time to make a positive impact on our small community,” Mullet said.

She said as the seniors move forward in their lives, they should focus on building bridges and not walls, choosing to lift others up rather than tearing them down.

“We have the power to shape the future of our community, to create a place where everyone feels valued, respected and supported,” Mullet said.

She then singled out how social media can play both a positive and negative role in lives today, and they should be mindful of what they put out there.

She also shared about her faith and how attending a school district that allowed her and many others to pursue that aspect of their lives was critical to her growth and many others who share her belief.

She said while moving on in life and blossoming into adulthood is exciting, what each person does with their gifts they’ve been given in showing God’s love will be the ultimate goal, offering grace, love and kindness to all.

Valedictorian Lydia Mast then touched on soaking in the joy of this moment, one she said they have all worked hard toward achieving.

“Today we all stand here, not only because of our individual efforts, but because of the incredible support of those around us,” Mast said.

Teachers, friends and family, and the entire community were among those Mast thanked, all of whom she thanked for providing shining examples of how to live.

“Let us reflect, not only on our success, but on the journey that brought us to this moment,” Mast said.

She reflected on the many accomplishments of this class, noting they overcame moments of doubt to show their potential and that it is this group’s determination and competitive nature that has and will propel them forward.

She said the character from the book, “A Gentleman in Moscow,” exemplifies how she and her classmates should strive to always give the utmost effort to find purpose in life and to cherish the small moments.

“What happens in life isn’t whether we receive a round of applause. What matters is that we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty,” Mast said. “Let’s strive to make ourselves better and to understand our purpose and give it all we’ve got.”

After a video presentation of the class created by Ethan Hershberger, the Varsity Singers presented the song “There Was a Time.” Then Principal Tyler Renner presented the class, and they were given their diplomas.

East Holmes Superintendent Erik Beun then reminisced about his younger days when he was given a piece of advice, that being every situation has two handles, two interpretations.

“You get to choose which one to grab,” Beun said. “You decide which story to tell yourself, how we react, whether to be alarmed or not to be alarmed. Once we make that choice, we can choose not to be angry, be harmed and not overreact. We can choose to be the best version of ourselves. Today, you get to decide which handle to pull.”

He said history shows communities that care for one another, work together and make positive decisions make a big difference.

“Starting now, our community needs you,” Beun said. “You are it. You are the future. Take the lessons you’ve learned and make good, meaningful decision that will work for you and bless future generations.”

With that, 76 students who were seemingly in first grade just moments ago walked into the sunshine of a new world as adults.

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