Liberty HS graduation-‘Just the starting point’
Parents, family members and friends of Liberty HS’s class of 2017 filled Stabler Arena to the brim for the graduation ceremony June 6. The crowd cheered and applauded as the 643 graduating seniors filed into the arena in their navy and maroon caps and gowns, ready to receive their diplomas and declare themselves alumni.
At the beginning of the evening, Principal Harrison Bailey III introduced the theme of the 95th commencement ceremony which permeated each of the speeches delivered throughout the course of the night: a quote by e.e. cummings that read, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
First student speaker Steven Schneible took the opportunity to muse on the challenges that lie ahead for graduates as they continue to grow up, from everyday frustrations to larger questions about the meaning of life. Although the tasks seemed daunting at first, he drew on shared experiences from the four years at Liberty to prove that the class of 2017 is ready.
“That’s all we have to do to grow up and discover who we really are. We just need to remember the lessons that not only the teachers, but the hallways, the walls of Liberty HS taught us,” he said.
Elliott Bond, the second student speaker, drew similar conclusions. He spoke about how all of their paths at Liberty began differently and how they will similarly all find their own definitions of success. Even despite their differences, he reminded his fellow graduates that Liberty gave them the same set of skills needed to accomplish these goals.
“If there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s that Liberty has given us all the courage to find out who we really are and face an ever-changing world,” he said. “As a class, we accept the differences of other students. As a school, we embrace change. Liberty has changed us just as we have changed Liberty.”
The ceremony proceeded to recognize the accomplishments of the class of 2017 throughout their high school careers, highlighting academic achievements and community service, among others.
“You have truly made us proud in the classroom, in the halls, on the fields, courts, pools and in the community,” said Bailey. “I am sincerely honored to stand by your side and call myself a Hurricane. I am confident that your achievements will be many, your futures will be bright and the world will be a better place when you are done with it. I salute you for a job well done.”
After Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy formally presented the class and before the awarding of diplomas began, class president McKenna Clearie took the podium to say a few last words to her peers.
“A lot of us have been confused about what comes next. Some of us may be scared or nervous, but the truth is, we shouldn’t be. We are ready for the next stage of our lives. We are ready because not only did Liberty give us a remarkable education and a strong foundation upon which we now build, but Liberty has prepared us in ways that go far beyond the classroom,” she said. “High school graduation is just the starting point for the rest of our achievements to come.”