ELYRIA — Four years ago, more than 400 students walked through the halls of the new Elyria High School as freshmen. Friday night, those students, now the class of 2014, graduated.
Elyria High School Principal Thomas Jama remembers the first time he spoke to the new graduates in 2011.
“I shared a vision of goals and challenged each student to be a leader. They took my challenge to heart and they followed the (school’s) slogan, ‘Achieving success, Nothing less,’ ” Jama said Friday night in Ely Stadium.
Jama emphasized that the class of 2014 produced strong leaders who stood up for what is right.
Turning his back to the audience, instead facing the seniors, he said to them, “Job well done, I’m very proud of you. Tonight, you have reached a huge goal set out 13 years ago.”
Elyria Schools superintendent Paul Ridga recalled one of his first meetings with the class of 2014, when they were freshmen and a new dress code was implemented.
“You are the best-looking class. I don’t know how you did it,” Ridga said.
Ridga expressed his pride in the graduating Pioneers.
“You set goals and you accomplished them, even lofty goals and for some, just graduating was your goal. Now, you must decide on your career in this pivotal point in your life,” Ridga said. “We have provided you a solid education, and now you must make the decision what to do next.”
Before senior speaker Victor Barbee spoke, the Elyria High School a cappella choir sang a selection of songs, which included “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine in.” The second verse spoke volumes to the graduating class: “Harmony and understanding; Sympathy and trust abounding; No more falsehoods or derisions; Golden living dreams of visions.”
Barbee referred to his classmates by saying a journey began 13 years ago, and through it friendships were made; goals were obtained; and everyone should continue to follow his or her heart.
“(School) gave us a purpose by overcoming hardships and (showing us) it takes courage to grow,” Barbee said.
Barbee said now is the time to perhaps slow down a bit and enjoy the world around them.
Referencing the childhood classic “Tortoise and the Hare,” Barbee said he wishes he was more like the tortoise because throughout his own high school journey, he often wanted to speed through life. But now, he wishes he had taken the time to slow instead of rushing ahead.
“Enjoy life every step of the way. Congratulations class of 2014, we made it!” Barbee exclaimed.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 31 graduating seniors earn 4.0 GPA or higher
- 67 graduating seniors earn 3.75 GPA and “Scholastic E”
- 43 graduating seniors earn honors diplomas
- 60 seniors are members of National Honor Society
- 15 graduates will join the military
- A total of $1.5 million in scholarship funds were awarded to graduating seniors