WHHS grads ready to sacrifice to be the best they can be

WHHS grads ready to sacrifice to be the best they can be
Dave Mast

Gennavieve Miller is all smiles as she prepares to take her turn walking across the stage to receive her diploma.


The 2023 West Holmes High School commencement ceremony took place Friday, May 26 in an evening of pomp and circumstance that was filled with celebration and hope for the future.

A total of 148 Knights seniors made their way in front of the stage to receive their diploma, turn their tassels and open the door to a whole new world.

Following the WHHS symphonic band’s presentation of the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Pomp and Circumstance,” senior class officer Addison Streer welcomed all to the celebration including the school board, administrators, staff, family and friends.

Class officer Casey Norman then offered several words of thanks, followed by class officer and valedictorian Aiden Piatt, who paid homage to longtime West Holmes staff members Jim Park and Brian Dodd, both of whom have taught in the West Holmes School District for 24 years.

Class officer Luke Lay then spoke about what the Class of 2023 left behind at the school as a legacy.

“As a group of officers, we came together to decide what we should give to the school as a senior class legacy,” Lay said. “With many ideas we chose to purchase a new laser projector to put into Excalibur Theater. This will benefit our music, theater and school programs.”

The class also chose to purchase material for the senior class wall that continues to grow as each class paints its mural and adds to the growing collection.

In the evening’s first keynote speech, 2023 class co-salutatorians Laci Snyder and Jaret Snyder shared their thanks to the many people who poured themselves into educating the class, including some time spent in virtual classrooms and hybrid learning sessions.

“We’ve all been through a lot together,” Laci Snyder said. “While these past four years may have been unprecedented, this did not stop us from pushing forward and striving for success.”

“We stand here today as a testament to our resilience, adaptability and unwavering determination,” Jaret Snyder said.

A performance by the symphonic band of the song “Don’t Stop Me Now” was followed by a speech from class valedictorian Aiden Piatt, who said there are countless people to thank who were influential in raising and educating him and his classmates over the past 13 years of education.

He then presented some words to the underclassmen, and while he addressed the underclassmen, his words rang true for the seniors who were about to embark on a new journey in life.

“Don’t stress about what you want to do after high school,” Piatt said. “Nobody is saying you have to have your entire future planned out by the time you graduate. I certainly don’t, and I’m willing to bet that my fellow seniors don’t as well. You may end up changing your mind on what you want to do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Find something else you’re passionate about and run with it.”

The WHHS chamber choir then sang the Queen song “Go the Distance” before West Holmes High School Principal Scott Pringle presented the Class of 2023.

West Holmes Schools Superintendent Eric Jurkovic then spoke of the graduating class as he offered the acceptance of the Class of 2023.

After congratulating the seniors on their successful journey through school, Jurkovic said the coming years will be full of challenges, excitement and even disappointments, but they will be among the best, most defining years of their lives.

He then focused on how sacrifice in one’s life will lead to many opportunities and accomplishments. He said sacrifice is essential in the attainment of any worthwhile goals in life.

“You will discover that most of those successful in life are the ones who are willing to give up the most,” Jurkovic said. “The most successful people begin by putting in exhausting amounts of hours in building their careers. The most successful athletes begin surpassing others through sheer dedication and determination. For many of you to achieve this same degree of success, you will have to apply these same principles. You sometimes may have to disregard what makes you comfortable. You must forget your desire to enjoy excessive leisure. You must be willing to go the extra mile, work the extra hour and break from what is expected as the standard. What you sacrifice is ultimately what you will gain.”

That paved the way for the parade of graduates who one by one made their final walk across the stage area to receive their diplomas from the WH BOE members, the introductions being made by staff members including Park, who has done the readings for years.

After the singing of the West Holmes school alma mater, the changing of tassels by the graduates and the obligatory flinging of their mortar boards in celebration, Dodd led his final performance as the band director, leading the symphonic band in the “Grand March” as the graduates left the gymnasium, having stepped from the high school realm into the world of adulthood.

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