By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Area High School’s 134th annual commencement was an opportunity for fond remembrances and for sharing hopes for the future as the 286 members of the graduating class reached a memorable milestone in their young lives.
“With a lot of hard work, we have gotten to the point we are at tonight,” said Kaylee Goodwin, the senior class president.
Goodwin noted that the seniors didn’t reach this moment on their own, and said that each member of the class should remember to thank those people who helped teach them so much through the years.
Erin Reph, the class salutatorian, referenced the
book of essays, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” before explaining that she recently visited a class of kindergarteners in the school district to see firsthand that these youngsters are, in fact, learning important lessons about how to share and how to work with each other. Reph said that one young student, wise beyond his years, mentioned the importance of treating others well so that you will be treated well by others.
“We’ve grown and matured and now we’re standing at the edge of our futures,” Reph explained. “As you head out into the world, make good choices. Every day can be an opportunity to learn.”
Oxford Area High School principal Christopher Dormer also talked about the importance of choices.
“Today is a great day,” Dormer said. “We celebrate the choices you have made.”
Dormer said that each person has the opportunity to choose whether the day is going to be a great day.
“Make it a great day—or not,” Dormer told the graduating seniors. “The choice is yours.”
The speech by class valedictorian Brianne Roper also referenced the importance of choices.
She shared a story from early in her freshman year when she was having trouble opening her
locker. After trying what she was convinced was her locker’s combination several times, she turned to a few of her friends to help. They tried the same combination and the locker still wouldn’t open. By this time, Roper had missed the bus.
“I was in the center of a freshman’s worst nightmare,” Roper said.
She finally went to the office to get help. The first thing that the person in the office did was confirm the combination. It turned out that Roper had been trying the wrong combination the whole time, and she never stopped to consider that possibility. Roper said that the story illustrated the importance of going to the proper source for the information that you need.
She referenced a graduation speech by well-known writer David Foster Wallace who talked about how there is no such thing as not worshipping.
“Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship,” Roper said, echoing Wallace's words. Roper explained that the challenge is to make sure that what you worship is worthwhile.
Worship outward beauty, she said, and someone will always be better looking.
Worship social acceptance and someone will always have more Twitter followers or Facebook friends.
Worship the GPA and one day soon it will become just another number.
She encouraged her classmates to give careful consideration to what they worship.
Once the graduation speeches were over, Superintendent David Woods, school board president
Donna Arrowood, Dormer, and Goodwin all took part in the highlight of the evening—the awarding of diplomas. By approximately 8:04 p.m. on Friday, June 6, diplomas had been conferred to all 286 members of Oxford’s Class of 2014.
The senior chorus performed the Oxford’s Alma Mater and the graduates exited the room, as a class one final time, to “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Before they did, Goodwin offered one lasting reminder about the lasting attachment that each student will have to both the school and the community.
“Deep down,” Goodwin said, “Oxford will always be our home.”