By Cole Zemelka, valedictorian Cardinal class 2016
Hello everyone. I would like to thank you for attending the commencement ceremony for the class of 2016. This is a very important milestone for all of us graduating, and as this chapter of our lives comes to an end, a new one begins. It is great to share this moment with our friends, family and community.
Let me begin by thanking a few people who have had a significant impact on my life. First, I would like to thank God, for putting me on this Earth, and for providing me the opportunity to meet and interact with the people who have helped sculpt me into the person I am today. Second, I need to thank my parents and family, for encouraging me throughout my entire life. They never failed to support and push me to new limits. Third, I need to thank the administration and staff who make this school what it is. Without the opportunities that I have been afforded in the past few years and help of many outstanding teachers, I would not be standing here today. Lastly, I need to thank my fellow classmates. Despite joining this great class a mere eight years ago, everyone accepted me and made me feel like I belonged. That is something that I will always be grateful for, and I cannot thank you all enough for your support and acceptance.
There are many lessons and valuable experiences that high school gives us. For me, I learned that there are activities that we can partake in, and choices that we can make, that carry a certain weight of importance with them. We can choose our priorities, we can decide what comes first in life. We have the ability to choose our friends, the people whom we look up to and seek out for guidance. That is one of the great things in life, we have the option to decide what we want to do.
Looking back on my four years in high school, I can see that some pivotal moments helped foster my desire to be challenged. I chose to take responsibility for my own education and success my senior year. I realized that in order to be successful and to reach our full potential, we need to be challenged. I saw that the only thing holding me back from being an exceptional student were my own limitations and lack of motivation. Seeing what I was capable of doing this past summer at Buckeye Boys State opened my eyes. I began to notice how lazy I was, how little effort I put into my school. I sat back and chose to let others do the hard work. I wasn’t a bad student and I didn’t get bad grades, I just realized that I had been selling myself short. I had been cheating myself.
Often we find what we are truly capable of when placed in uncomfortable positions. My greatest accomplishments in high school are not a result of mediocrity or laziness, they stem from moments of stress, uncertainty, and at times, fear. I chose to go against what is perceived as normal or okay, and as a result, I am standing here giving this speech. This past year, I chose to embrace my education and to try new things. I ran for student government, took five college classes, and stepped up my involvement at church. Out of this choice to stay focused, and to embrace what I was capable of doing, I have grown so much as a person.
There a few among this class who dedicated themselves to certain ideas. Rachael Chapman goes down to Jordak everyday for a few hours to help tutor the kindergartners. She wants to make sure that they are ready for first grade, and ready to take on new challenges. This has inspired her to pursue a career in early education, and she will be attending Lake Erie College to earn a degree. Kathryn Dhayer spends countless hours each day with the STARS and Project Achieve programs to aid with the needs of the students in the programs. She has done this since freshmen year. This has helped her to discern what she wants to do later in life, and she will be attending the University of Mount Union to pursue a degree in special education.
Success, is subjective. We make the choice on what to focus on and what we want to perfect in ourselves. I have always been fond of school and I always enjoyed learning about new and foreign topics. Do not let other people determine your self-worth or success. Find something that you truly enjoy doing, and commit to it. Whether it be focusing on school, serving our country, being a parent, entering the workforce, or anything in between, dedicate yourself to it. Focus on that task, make it your number one priority. There will be distractions and temptations along the way, but by staying devoted to your end goal, you will be successful.
As I look upon the class of 2016, I know that we are all capable of succeeding in our goals, hopes and dreams. If we dedicate ourselves to a goal, if we persevere against the roadblocks and discern our right path, we can all lead extraordinary lives. With this last thought, class of 2016, I leave you to begin your next chapter. Thank you.
By Marissa Vidal, salutatorian Cardinal class 2016
Good morning! Welcome to family members, teachers, school board and administration. On behalf of the Class of 2016, thank you for all of your continued support as we reach this huge milestone. You have all been there in the past as we made our way through school, and it means the world that you are here now.
In the years leading up to the moment that we stand here today, the Class of 2016 has undergone a tremendous transformation. It isn’t as noticeable if you look back a few weeks or a few months, but as a whole, this four years has been somewhat of a metamorphosis. For four years, we have struggled and strived to become what stands in front of you. No, it is not immediately apparent, but I think that senior year has granted me a little leeway in terms of nostalgia and sentimentality.
Our transformations are amazingly obvious if you just look around you. In this room, there are children who are just beginning to walk. Children who are starting school, playing sports, or learning to ride a bike. Each of these children is making his or her own milestone no matter how small. My own nieces and nephew are in this room and
achieving amazing things. It’s surreal to know that these kids are one day going to be standing where I am. It makes me realize that all of the Class of 2016 was once there, too.
We all have made first steps, left kindergarten, made it to third grade and just four years ago, whether we like to admit it or not, we were walking out of the doors of middle school. It isn’t fair to say that we haven’t changed since then.
When I was a freshman, I rode to school with my mom’s friend’s son, who was a senior at the time. He asked me if I was nervous or excited, and I replied that it was a little bit of both. I asked him about my teachers and if they were nice. He gave me the breakdown of everything I needed to know, and then we walked into school and I began to fend for myself. Now, it seems that I am in his shoes. I now know the ins and outs of this school and how to make it through after just a few years.
All of us have experienced a tremendous amount of growth from the time we first began high school until now. Through all of our greatest accomplishments and the lessons that we have learned, it’s almost as if we’re different people. Now, we are about to be high school graduates. Four years ago, we were all freshmen and thought that graduation was such a long distance away. In reality, four years is just the blink of an eye.
Now, the Class of 2016 stands before you as amazing, hard-working and bright individuals. We have all made it through high school by developing and strengthening friendships, trying out new things, and powering through classes. With the support and motivation from all of the people in this room, we have made it through the toughest, but most rewarding four years of our lives. I’d like to congratulate each and every one of us. I hope that when we look back on high school in a few more years, that we will look upon it fondly and keep in mind all of the steps that it took to get here. I hope that we will remember that even though we’ve made it this far, there is still a lot more change and growth to come. Let’s keep in mind everything that we’ve learned and done here at Cardinal and use it to help us advance and grow in our futures.