TORONTO - Classmates, friends, family and faculty gathered May 25 at the city high school to wish the Class of 2012 the best into the future.
The 51 graduates were hailed for their achievements through song and speech during the 123rd-annual commencement ceremony, which began with graduates filing into the school gymnasium to the strains of the city high school band performing "Pomp and Circumstance."
After the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, Spenser Sninchak, president of the Class of 2012, welcomed those gathered for the ceremony.
"On behalf of our class I'd like to thank our parents and teachers that pushed us to this place," said Sninchak.
The invocation followed, delivered by the Rev. Raul Diaz, pastor of the Cornerstone Church.
He asked God to "show (graduates) today is the first day of the rest of their lives, and graduates were "special to our society. May they all soar to high places in our society."
Brian Wilson, guest speaker and and city high school alumni, told graduates it was a "little strange to be here," and that most commencement speeches weren't memorable.
"I have no 11 herbs and spices of success to share with you," said Wilson, an attorney. "Class of 2012, you have to realize you control your destiny and success. Every one of you sitting here has a gift."
Wilson went on to say graduates had the gift of time ahead, and "you're going to have your freedom now."
Choosing positive people as friends also would influence future success, he continued.
"You also need to take inventory of who you're hanging out with," Wilson said, warning students to stay away from those that would pull them in a negative direction.
Wilson cited a statistic showing immigrants in America are four times more likely to succeed in business because "they saw the opportunities. They saw the hope.
"Intelligence only gets you so far in this world," he continued, adding courteousness also could be essential to future success. "Never underestimate the the power of a written thank you. It's something I've been trying to do myself. I know you guys can't wait to get out of here, but sometimes the journey is just as fun. Best of luck to you, and I wish you peace."
The Toronto High School choir sang a few selections.
Fred Burns, city school district superintendent, then offered remarks, after which Blake Wollam, class valedictorian, offered advice for the graduates' futures. Diplomas were presented by Ed Robinson, city high school principal.
(Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)