MOUNT VERNON — “This is truly an exceptional class,” Mount Vernon High School Principal Kathy Kasler said of the Mount Vernon High School Class of 2009 at commencement exercises Sunday afternoon at the MVHS football field.
Kasler told the friends, family and educators present how the members of this year’s class excelled in academics, athletics and the arts. She said leadership and school spirit ran deeply through the graduates sitting before the crowd.
“You can be proud of the class of 2009,” Kasler said.
Kasler asked veterans in the crowd, as well as those currently serving in the military, to stand and be honored. She also asked those seniors entering the military to stand, and any family members of those currently serving who could not attend the graduation to also stand.
As the crowd finished its long applause for the group of servicemen and women, she asked everyone to acknowledge a moment of silence for the veterans and service people.
Senior members of the MVHS choir, under the direction of Marty Bell, performed “Graduation (Friends Forever).”
The MVHS orchestra, directed by Anthony Springer, also performed throughout the afternoon.
MVHS co-class presidents, Travis Horlacher and Christine Herald, presented Mount Vernon City Schools Superintendent Steve Short with a gift from the class. Two flat screen televisions in the school hallways will be used to broadcast announcements and news to students.
Senior Esther Nzishura shared some of her high school experiences, and said she found a family of friends far away from her native Africa.
“When we stepped into high school we joined a family and became one,” she said. “I felt I belonged.”
Nzishura spoke of the importance of choosing friends wisely and sticking with people who would prove supportive. She said she had anticipated graduation throughout her underclassmen years.
“I never thought saying good-bye would be this hard,” she said. “I trusted my unfailing God to lead me through my high school years, and I trust him to lead me now.”
Nzishura said that although public speaking had once been difficult for her because English was not her first language, she had overcome that difficulty.
“Hey, look at me now,” she said in perfect English with her African accent. She said her friends were always asking her to speak to them in Swahili, so she did so to finish her speech, wishing the class of 2009 well.
Senior Emily McBride said she thinks about her high school experience in term of music she has experienced with her classmates through the years.
Weaving song lyrics from artists such as U2, Oasis, Kanye West and Marvin Gaye through her speech, McBride drew smiles and laughs from the audience, her classmates and the school administrators.
She expressed thanks to her parents, as well as the school staff and teachers. She then congratulated her classmates, and expressed her love, all by using lyrics from one familiar song after another.
The final speaker from the class was senior Fred Parker.
“Today’s the day we start living the rest of our lives,” Parker said. “It’s one of the most memorable days we’ve ever experienced. We will always be connected through this school.”
He said that although some in the crowd, like himself, had lost loved ones who could not be physically present at the ceremony, he reassured others who have lost loved ones.
“I can proudly say my mom is looking down, admiring the man I’ve become,” Parker said.
He reminded his classmates while they had been given tests in high school which taught them lessons, from now on they would be given lessons which would test them.
“I want to make a difference,” Parker said. “I want to be special. I ask you, class of 2009, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?”
Assistant Principal Sam Shuman took the podium following Kasler’s certification of the class of 2009, to read the role call of names as the graduates filed onto the stage.
Short spoke of the leadership he had seen develop in this year’s seniors. He said the class had shown enthusiasm organizing themselves for sporting events, and would leave behind a legacy of school spirit.
Graduate Ben Severns said he was not used to the idea he was no longer a MVHS student.
“It’s kind of weird because it’s always something you think about as far away and now it’s here,” he said
“I’m kind of overwhelmed and shocked,” said fellow graduate Jenn O’Hara. She said she was looking forward to finally spending time with friends now the end of the year had finally arrived.
“It’s been a good long year but it went way too fast,” said Tyler Cheek.
“It’s amazing,” said Bianca Dingman. “I’m so glad it’s over and I’m excited to move on with my life.”