May is often the month of graduation, and this was no different in Finneytown Local School District. The Class of 2019 graduated on May 30 looking toward their dreams and futures, but also reflecting on their time in Finneytown and the bonds they created. Speakers reflected on the leadership roles taken by the students within the houses, how the teachers have truly influenced them as learners and people, and how the students’ hard work and perseverance has paid off to bring them to this moment.
Nick Ogletree and Ally Sedgewick recognized those in the audience and on stage who impacted their educational experiences as well as their lives. In addition, they honored their fellow students who will be joining the armed forces this summer and those who have protected our country over the years.
As a student representative, Nick Ogletree, spoke as House Captain to his fellow seniors. He quoted the late great Harriet Tubman stating, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.’ I believe all of us here today are dreamers. The fact that all of us are here today is just a testament to how strong and passionate we are to turn those dreams into reality.”
Mrs. Terri Noe, Finneytown Local Schools Superintendent, congratulated the graduating seniors and wished them a future filled with new opportunities and possibilities. In keeping with tradition, the Chorale sang beautifully as they performed several pieces.
Mrs. Tammy Dietz, Finneytown High School Math teacher was chosen by the students to be the keynote speaker. She explained to the audience how math and music are intertwined and proceeded to sing her advice in the form of Disney songs to the students. While her speech brought a number of laughs, her words delivered the message in only a way that Mrs. Dietz does with love, compassion, kindness, and joy.
Dr. Jen Dinan, Finneytown Secondary Campus Principal, used her past experience when she graduated to provide perspective and some similarities with the current grads. She reminded them of the most essential skills that they have learned at Finneytown over their time, “Today, success requires the ability to think critically, to collaborate with people from around the world, to ask questions, to find problems, to innovate, to take risks, to have resilience and grit, to be willing to fail and try again and again until you get it right. It requires knowing what you believe in, what you stand for and using your voice to communicate this in a way that calls others to action. It requires leadership.” Dr. Dinan then offered this advice for them, “Take those experiences and your ability to create relationships with you on your journey. Wherever you go, share your story and even more importantly, listen as others share theirs. Know what you believe in, what you stand for and know your voice matters. Be confident, be fierce, be passionate, be vulnerable. Lead confidently and fiercely. Lead with passion and others will join you because of the relationships you’ve created – the trust you’ve built and the way you’ve made them feel.”
Jacob Huff, Class of 2019 Valedictorian, was introduced and welcomed to the podium. He thanked the staff, parents, and all those who influenced his life at Finneytown. He encouraged his fellow graduates to do something positive in our suffering society to change it for the good and be a positive influence on others. “We are the generation that can change that. As we enter the world we must be poised to not only help ourselves but to look out for others. As Gandhi said ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world.’ Every student that is graduating today has the ability to change the world… As we leave this building make it your priority to live a loving life and have a positive Finneytown impact on the world around you.” he challenged.
Class of 2019 Salutatorian Hunter Giffin took a different approach to his classmates. He spoke about the hard work and perseverance it took to get to this moment as well as the determination and boldness like Elon Musk, “This is the sort of determination and boldness we must have in our lives in order to accomplish our goals. This does not mean I’m asking you to be the next Elon Musk, but use his mindset to accomplish whatever it is you aspire to be. Be a great husband or wife, parent to your children, be a great doctor, vet, or engineer. Whatever you want to do with your life, be bold and do it to the best of your ability,” he said. He also challenged students to set goals and accomplish them and reminded the graduates to “leave the world a better place than you found it.”
Mr. Anton Walker, Assistant Principal, recognized students who received scholarships this year culminating in over 1.3 million dollars. The scholarships were awarded for outstanding artistic talent, musical talent, and athletics as well as academics.
Following the announcement of the names and each students’ chance to accept his/her diploma, the evening ended with the recognition of the graduates, the singing of the Alma Mater, the turning of the tassels, and an outpouring of applause for Finneytown High School Class of 2019. Although they are now alumni, they will always be Wildcats!