STEUBENVILLE — As the Class of 2008 prepared to graduate from Indian Creek Local High School, two of its seniors had some valuable words to share before the tassels were turned.
Valedictorians Mason Pierce and Ellyn Mayher spoke before the hundreds gathered at St. John Arena Friday evening, saying they are thankful to the ones who brought them this far in life.
Pierce explained today’s society is connected through common experiences, such as watching the same television shows, eating the same foods and listening to the same songs. He stated to his classmates, “It has reduced our ability to step outside the box and think for ourselves.”
“Do not allow others to develop your perspective — it will rob you not only of developing your own thoughts, but also, of your willpower to do so in the future.”
Pierce continued, “The definition of success today is usually defined by our career, salary, where our degree is from and where we live. Is this what success really is? If so, I am afraid I’m on a road to a miserable failure. But I don’t care, and you shouldn’t either. The definition of success is up to you. If you spend your life trying to accomplish what others want you to, you will be sorely disappointed. If you aim for what you wish and are happy about it — you are a success.
“As you leave this building and start the next chapter of your life, do not use the people around you as the source of answers, but as the source of options,” Pierce stated. “Know that in this world, few things are certain.
“I would like to offer you a bit of advice that you may take to heart or discard,” Pierce concluded. “Nelson Henderson said, ‘The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.’ I hope that many of you live by these words, for the world is always in need of an altruistic heart.
“In closing, I would like to thank my friends and family for supporting me; the administration for never giving me demerits when I roamed the halls without a pass; and last, but certainly not least, my teachers, who have planted in me — and all of us, trees under whose shade they never expect to sit.”
Mayher also shared her final sentiments as a student at Indian Creek: “A Chinese proverb says that, ’A tree may grow a thousand feet tall, but its leaves return to its roots.’ I hope that we all keep in touch and as you look back, remember fondly all that we did together. Savor the memories.”
Mayher then quoted Les Brown, saying, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
“You should set reasonable goals for yourself,” Mayher told the class. “Live your life striving to fulfill those aspirations.”
She then shared her definition of bravery and what it means to her.
“Bravery has a different meaning to me, something I learned my junior year in AP English class while reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ for the third time,” Mayher stated. “Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, has sine been one of my greatest heroes.”
She explained the reason for him being her hero was “because of his actions in Tom Robinson’s trial.”
“Atticus attempts the impossible and does what he believes to be just, defending an African American when no one else would, even when he knew that there was no chance for a victory.
“The Class of 2008, I hope that you all do what you deem is right in a time of strife, even though it may be difficult or lame,” she concluded. “Do not give in to defeat. In this, you will find happiness and success.”
Also during Friday’s commencement, the concert band performed under the direction of director Don Llewellyn and assistant director Kent Howell. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Kylee DeHamer and the National Anthem and Alma Mater performed by the concert band.
Jessica Bennett gave the opening and closing remarks, while the class reflection was done by Alexis Marsh.
Principal John Craig honored foreign exchange students and announced those graduates who were recognized as honor students. He, along with assistant principal Steve Cowser, presented the evening’s diplomas.
(Ghrist can be contacted at email@example.com.)