ELYRIA — For Lorain’s class of 2019, Tuesday night’s commencement was the “endgame.”
Graduating more than 470 students, many earning college or technical certifications while still in high school, the class celebrated its last night together at the Ewing Field House at Lorain County Community College.
“Part of the journey is the end,” student speaker Azaria Blair told the packed gymnasium.
Comparing the evening and the work the class had put in to get there with Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame,” she reminded the superheroes of the class of 2019 to stay strong in their beliefs and find someone to help them through the tough times.
“As we go off to face what our parents call ‘the scary world,’ we will encounter many individuals who will challenge our thinking and make us question our belief systems,” she said. “I say to each of you to stay strong in whatever you hold as you truth but remain open minded and considerate of others.”
Comparing the skills each student had gained with the stones in the movie’s infinity gauntlet, she hoped graduates would remember their roots in the International City.
“Following graduation, many of us will be leaving Lorain,” she said. “I would like for each of you to remain close to your loved ones because you never know when you will be in a situation where you may lose one. No matter where life takes you — as the space stone allows — make sure you return home to Lorain where you received your foundational nurturing.”
Senior class representative Kameron Davis shared similar sentiments — recognizing the class had made it through everything from moving into the high school to the state takeover of the district midway through its high school careers.
“We persevered through it all, and now we made it,” he said.
“I know you’re going to miss that one teacher that you could go and talk to. … We’re also glad we don’t have to go to that one class. Whether you hated or loved that class, the memories you made will last a lifetime.”
Reminiscing on taking the school’s basketball team to the state Final Four, he reminded his classmates not to stop after graduation.
“There are bigger and better opportunities out there, so why stop now,” he said.
For high school Executive Director Daniel Garvey, presiding over his first commencement with the district, the night was a chance to quote rapper Tupac Shakur.
“In the words of 2Pac, ‘Always do your best. No matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up and handle it. Make this world a better place because you are in it.’”
He reminded students of a story from Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming” when her guidance counselor advised her against applying to Princeton University. Obama went on to graduate from Princeton and Harvard, despite humble beginnings similar in a city similar to Lorain.
“Many people think of this as an ending, but it is really just the beginning,” he said. “As young students, other people were deciding what was in your best interest and helping you on your path to this day. Now you get to choose.”
Though listed in the program, Valedictorian Hannah Newsome and Salutatorian Eleana Cintron elected not to speak at commencement, according to Garvey. CEO David Hardy was in attendance but did not speak during the evening’s ceremony.