By Megan Kelley
CLARKSTON — The graduation ceremony for Lake Orion High School’s class of 2022 was held last Thursday at Pine Knob Music Theater where 540 graduating seniors donned their ceremonial caps and gowns to receive their high school diplomas.
A sudden onset of rain forced students and staff to forgo the traditional procession for one that ushered everyone into their seats under the pavilion as quickly as possible.
Seniors Quen Williams and class vice president Melinda Brunk welcomed everyone to the ceremony.
Lake Orion High School Principal Steve Hawley then introduced those in attendance, including district staff, administration and members of the board of education.
A video created by the school’s Television Production Workshop crew featured various graduating seniors recalling the things they will miss about LOHS, mixed in with videos from staff members wishing them well.
Board of Education President Jim Weidman and Superintendent Ben Kirby gave their own respective addresses, both with messages of encouragement and inspiration.
“While working with teens for over 20 years, I’ve emphasized three areas to reach one’s best self and these are fitting as you take these next steps. Number one, attack your tasks and goals with a great attitude. You and you alone choose your attitude each day…secondly, attack your tasks and goals with your best effort. Leave no stone unturned to maximize your impact,” Kirby said. “Lastly, like Mr. Weidman said, be a good teammate, be kind, be supportive and empathetic of the beliefs and needs of others.”
Student speakers Paige Walker and class president Kyler Carson gave their own student messages.
“Our class has accomplished something that classes before us have not. We know ourselves and we’ve grown and changed within ourselves. We define our past over our time in high school, even with obstacles as daunting as a global pandemic, and we learned to define ‘us’ along the way,” Walker said.
“If you remember anything from your time in Lake Orion, remember this: you are not defined by your circumstances. You are defined by your response. We are not just survivors, we’re growers and doers and graduates and whatever you want to be,” Walker said
Hawley gave the final address of the night.
“A quote was once shared with me that said, ‘Everything in life comes with some risk, making it essential for us to learn how to navigate it.’ Our senior class before us today has, without a doubt, spent a good part of their high school careers navigating some of the greatest challenges we have ever seen in education,” Hawley said. “Yet, despite the successful effort of overcoming these challenges, as we all know, when you leave here today with your diploma in hand, life will continue to present challenges for each of you to overcome.”
Hawley went on to share some advice he had once been given when white water rafting with his family
“While listening intently to our guide that day, as he prepared us for the adventure to come, he explained four important guidelines that were designed to ensure a safe and successful outing on the river. Interestingly, I still carry these four principles with me today as they have helped to lead me in times of trouble.
“First, our guide shared with us that we must be aware of the fact that at some point on this journey, you will exit the raft. When traveling down a turbulent river this was easy to understand; however, I contend that all of us have experienced something relatable in our own lives.
“Next, the guide explained that once we entered the water, it was essential for us to be active participants in our own rescue. He said, ‘Don’t wait for someone to save you. You must advocate for yourself.’
“The guide then explained that we should never let go of our paddles as they provide the opportunity, the very important opportunity, to reach for assistance when you are unable to get back to the raft.
“And finally, the guide shared with us that while traveling down the rapids, we will encounter many rocks and obstacles. He told us that at these times, we must all point positive or direct ourselves away from harm and toward the direction that we desire to go.”
Just as students began crossing the stage to receive their diplomas, the storm clouds broke and sun shone through the procession.
By Megan Kelley