Members of the Shiloh 2017 graduating class take last minute instructions from teacher Kendra Saddoris before the commencement started Friday evening. (Photos by Gary Henry/The Prairie Press)

Graduates bid farewell

HUME – The Shiloh Class of 2017 brought a touch of whimsy to the May 12 commencement exercise.

A large inflatable monkey was positioned on the stage next to the speaker’s podium. According to the class members, the monkey has served as the class mascot and good luck piece since freshman year, and it was fitting for the inflatable to be present for the last official act as a class.

It is a tradition for the soon to be Shiloh graduates to enter the gym, wearing caps and gowns, before the processional and distribute flowers to parents, family members and others who are important to them. It is a time of quick embraces and a few tears. 

Class members handle almost all of the parts of the Shiloh commencement exercise. 

Madison Allen delivered the welcoming address on behalf of her classmates. She thanked parents, teachers and others in a general way before offering a personalized message.

“Thanks Grandma for always helping me with late projects,” said Allen. “I love you, Grandma.”

Her closing comment was a challenge to her classmates to continue daring to be all that is possible. 

Salutatorian Gwyn Grafton acknowledged a little secret about the class of 2017.

“We had a reputation in elementary school as a horrible class,” said Grafton. 

She wasn’t sure the reputation remained valid during the high school years. During the speech, Grafton mentioned every high school faculty member by name and reviewed the important valuable life lessons each taught beyond the academic requirements of the classroom.

The class of 2017 is special, said Grafton, because it did not matter if one was with the class for 13 years or only a short time because all were made to feel a part of the group. She expressed her gratitude for belonging.

“It’s been the longest adventure of my life with all of you,” said Grafton.

Co-valedictorian Faith Morris also touched on the close nature of the class, saying she has learned something from each member of the class and those relationships have made her a better person. She described the class as the future doctors, professionals and mechanics the world will need and graduation puts them on the way to becoming successful adults.

“Each of you has unlimited potential,” said Morris.

She issued a special challenge to her classmates to continue striving for the best as they go their separate ways.

“Be more than a statistic…make a difference,” Morris said.

Co-valedictorian Shayne Smith described graduation as a time of celebration and as the demarcation for when life starts since the class members are now responsible for making their own decisions and are accountable for their action.

She urged her classmates to always be mindful of the six pillars of character – trustworthy, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. While no one is perfect and mistakes are inevitable, Smith said those are setbacks that can be overcome if one remains true to self and walks an independent path.

“Be more concerned with you character than your reputation,” Smith said in closing. “Character is who you are, reputation is only what others think of you.” 

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