By Jim Newell
There are another 520 Dragons who have turned their tassels, leaving their world at Lake Orion High School behind as the embark on a new journey to make their marks in the world.
Lake Orion High School’s Class of 2018 Commencement Ceremony was Monday night at DTE Energy Theatre, and from all those who spoke during the ceremony, the message was clear:
The values and lessons the graduates have learned during their time at Lake Orion have prepared them for the challenges they will face in the world. It is now up to each of them to soar to the heights of which they dream.
High school Principal Stephen Hawley reminded the students of the quote in the entryway at the high school: “Through these halls walk the finest students in the nation.”
The Class of 2018 has proved time and again their commitment to excel, Hawley said, pointing out the record number of awards in athletics, the arts and scholarships the class has earned.
“They selflessly raised a record amount of money (for charity),” Hawley said, “And they have 30,000 combined hours of community service.”
“They have proved themselves, in my humble estimation, the finest in the nation,” Hawley said. “They understand the importance of making every moment count. Because of your spirit, you will long be remembered.”
Hawley offered this final advice to the students, quoting Albert Einstein: “Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.”
District Superintendent Marion Ginopolis, early in her speech, told the students that, “The sky is the limit…there are no boundaries, no restrictions on what you can do.”
She reminded them about NASA Astronaut Dr. Drew Feustel, a 1983 Lake Orion graduate who recently traveled to the International Space Station and, while aboard the station, held a Q&A chat with area college and high school students, including 150 LOHS students, via a live NASA downlink.
Feustel, Ginopolis said, admitted that he didn’t do as well in high school as he would have liked and knew he had to do more to realize his dream of becoming an astronaut.
He started off at community college, worked as a mechanic, continued to strive and excel, and is now an astronaut.
“You have to decide for yourselves what it is you want to do,” Ginopolis said. “For this class, I say the sky is no limit.”
Seniors Allison Anker and Eldon Pearson gave the student message addresses on “Defining Moments” and “A Series of Seconds” respectively.
“What now?” Anker asked, reminding the graduates that their futures are in their hands for the very first time.
“Each of you has had that individual moment where you ‘got big’…every victory, every loss, every moment in between is what got you to where you are now,” Anker said, adding the challenges the graduates have overcome to this point in their lives have gotten them “one step closer to the big dreams you’ve always had.”
Board of Education Vice-President Birgit McQuiston urged the graduates to “embrace the amazing characteristics of Dragons” as they move on to the next stage of their lives, reminding them that they join the ranks of the Dragons who have gone before.
“Beyond this place there be Dragons,” McQuiston said. “Spread your Dragon wings and soar to new heights.”