The future is bright for Hiland graduating class

The future is bright for Hiland graduating class

Image Credit: Dave Mast

As the Hiland graduating members of the Class of 2022 arose from their seats following the graduation ceremony, they took one final walk down the center aisle in the Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center at Hiland High School, emerging from the Reese Center into a glorious, sun-drenched day.

A brighter, more encouraging omen could not be more fitting of a class of graduates who now have their sights set on futures they hope will be as bright as the sunny sky.

The graduation ceremony took place Sunday, May 29 with parents, family and friends enjoying one final chance to celebrate the graduates as Hiland Hawks.

“On behalf of the entire senior class, thank you teachers and staff for not only your dedication to educate, but for pushing us to be the best version of ourselves,” senior and National Honor Society member Wyatt Freeman said. “Throughout the years, we have experienced many highs and lows, tragedies and triumphs. But most importantly, we experienced them together. I will forever be grateful for the lifelong relationships and memories of my peers and the staff.”

Rather than share memories or poignant points, class salutatorian Kate Bodiker opted to share a story of a little girl with big dreams.

“I have to be honest: I have been thinking about what speech to say at graduation for years now,” Bodiker said. “Seriously, in seventh grade, I wrote that down as an accomplishment for high school.”

But rather than delve into a typical topic for a graduation speech, Bodiker crafted a story that took the listeners from preschool to graduation day.

Valedictorian Madi Keim then spoke about how her faith played a major role in her time at Hiland, from the bonds of friendship to studies, to enjoying music and the many other extracurricular activities that give purpose to life and growing into adulthood.

“Today is about rejoicing,” Keim said. “The Bible tells us to rejoice countless times.”

She talked about the Greek word for rejoice, which is chara, and said each student has many reasons to revel in their years at Hiland.

However, Keim said the term chara also was used to open and close letters, noting that in those terms, chara was a perfect word to embrace.

“When we get out diplomas today, we are signing off on high school,” Keim said. “We are saying farewell or chara to Hiland. We will never be a senior at Hiland again. That may excite you, sadden you or scare you. It’s all three for me, but that is what this whole ceremony is about. We’re done being kids now.”

Between the speeches and thanks were performances from the Hiland choir, varsity singers and band, with the seniors partaking in their final performances with each.

On behalf of the East Holmes Schools administration and staff, Principal Matt Johnson congratulated the Class of 2022.

“They have accomplished much, and they have represented their school well,” Johnson said. “They will now go on and accomplish greater things in service to their families, to their community and to others.”

East Holmes Schools Superintendent Erik Beun told them to pick up the mantle their parents and community set for them to follow.

“Seniors, as I look out into the audience this afternoon, there are many proud and smiling faces,” Beun said. “These are people who have walked with you, supported you, nurtured you and cheered you on for the last 18-plus years. Parents, grandparents and extended family, on behalf of the seniors, I want to say thank you for your support.”

After each senior had received his or her diploma, the lights went dim, and the seniors and entire community in the gym watched a video that was created by the seniors featuring many staff members talking about all the accomplishments. It also gave the seniors one last chance to say goodbye.

They then rose and walked into the sun-drenched day, a new day full of hope and joy as they embraced the excitement of the next phase in their lives.