MERCERVILLE — Fifty-seven South Gallia High School seniors walked from the high school gymnasium on Saturday afternoon as graduates having earned their diplomas during a commencement ceremony as a part of a close-knit class of 2012.
Well wishes for the future were on the tongues of all the honored guests in attendance, including co-valedictorians Christina Howell and Cassandra Strait.
Howell told her classmates to live for the future while maintaining the spirit of what is unique to the class of 2012.
“We must remain true to ourselves and fight the urge to conform. We are the future and the hope for tomorrow,” Howell said.
Howell further touched on the friendships forged among her classmates and, while noted the sadness at the closing of one chapter of their lives, she told her peers to look forward to the future and to set out to achieve greatness.
“I know that when I look back at my time spent here at South Gallia what I will miss the most are the people who have come to mean so much to my life. It will be painful to say goodbye, but as Charles Dickens said, ‘the pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again,’” She said. “I look forward to seeing each and every one of you again in the future; but, for now, I must say congratulations and good luck in all you do. And, remember, not everyone can be great, but someone great can come from anywhere, even Mercerville, Ohio.”
Strait echoed the sentiment of her co-valedictorian, telling the graduates to make a difference in the world, whatever they do.
“We’re going out into the world today to make a difference. Go forward in your life and never look back. Never regret the choices you make for you make those choices for a reason,” Strait said.
During her remarks, Strait personally thanked her family for their involvement in her own success and gave a heartfelt thanks to all those who have touched the lives of the SGHS class of 2012.
“I’d like to take this time right now to thank each parent, each supervisor, each mentor for helping us come here. You’ve affected everyone sitting in these robs here today in some way, no matter how small,” she said.
Taking a line from the popular series of novels, “The Hunger Games,” Strait further wished her classmates the best of luck.
“‘May the odds be ever in your favor. May the dice roll to where you will always end up on top.’” Strait quoted. “I want you guys to go through life with a smile on your face and peace in your heart.”
Salutatorian RuthAnna Witmer also wished success on the class of 2012 and provided inspiration by reading Jeremiah 29:11.
“Whether it be college, work or military, God has a plan for each and every one of you,” Witmer stated. “It has been said, the reason most people fail instead of succeed is because they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment. My hope for the class of 2012 is that you leave this gym with cherished memories and big dreams.”
Gallia County Local Schools Superintendent Charla Evans, Ph.D., told the graduates to move forward with passion in their hearts as passion will provide the drive to help them reach their goals.
“I challenge each of you to find your passion in life,” Evans said. “Have you ever met high-achievers that weren’t enthusiastic about what they were doing? How many dispassionate success stories have you known with people? How many great leaders do you admire that were indifferent? Probably not many, probably not one. … Passion turns your have-to’s into want-to’s. It creates a fire of motivation that never goes out.”
Last to speak was Sean Lane, BTS Software Solutions CEO. Lane, who acted as guest speaker, is a River Valley High School graduate and spoke of the advantages of being a Gallia County native and the advantages of graduating from a small school where being multifaceted and multi-talented is a must for success.
“If you are sitting here as graduates, I know that you’ve earned it, I know that you’ve worked for it, I know that it wasn’t handed to you, because you’re from Gallia County,” Lane said. ‘I know that you’ve worked to earn money. I know that you’ve been challenged to be where you are today and will continue to meet hard challenges, but I guarantee you that you have a thicker skin than most people you will come across and that is a distinct advantage.”
Graduates from the SGHS class of 2012 are: Mallory Alderigi; Melissa Baird; John Baker; Courtney Blackburn; Sarah Blankenship; Hannah Brumfield; Krista Buttrick; Chandra Canaday; Austin Combs; Andrew Cook; Joshua Cooper; Shi Cremeens; Kenneth Cross, II; Derek Davies; Jacob Dillon; Kaitlynn Dummitt; Tori Duncan; Johnny Ellis; Heather Green; Shawn Halley; Cory Haner; Autum Hellman; Brittany Henderson; Levi Hively; Christina Howell; Hattie Jarrell; John Johnson, III; Heather Lester; Layna Lester; Clayton Lucas; Danny Matney, Jr.; Dalton Matney; Brice McClellan; Megan Meade; Shelby Merry; David Michael; Timothy Moreland, Jr.; Daltun Mullens; Samantha Nance; Jaylan Nolan; Terry Phillips; Maigen Rainey; Jesse Roach-Fisher; Lauren Saunders; Natasha Smith; Luke Stapleton; Cassandra Strait; Samantha Wallace; Caitlin Watson; Krystal Weatherford; Andrew Welch; Makayla Wells; RuthAnna Witmer; Michael Wolfe, Jr.; Ricky Wolford, Jr.; Taylor Wolford and Troy Zinn, II.