From right to left, more than 600 Sylvania City Schools seniors moved their tassels in the symbolic gesture that marked the end of their high school careers and the beginning of independence.
Before Southview High School’s 37th annual Commencement on Sunday afternoon at the Stranahan Theater in South Toledo, Jennifer Koehl was adjusting her white cap and gown in the bathroom.
“I’m really excited. It’s one more experience with my fellow classmates. One last goodbye,” the 18-year old Sylvania resident said.
Although her post-graduation plans are confirmed — she will attend the University of Toledo where she will begin the pre-pharmacy program — she already longs for those younger days when life was simple and responsibilities were few.
“I kind of wish I was back in elementary school. You didn’t have to worry about college, money, or try to figure out your life in a year,” she said.
An hour later, she was one of about 304 students applauded for their achievement, dedication and, as seniors Hunter Baehren and Zachary Rothschild portrayed in a skit during the ceremonies, their persistence.
Among those who recognized the students’ achievements were the entire Board of Education and Superintendent Brad Rieger, who reminded them that although they do have a new-found “mini-independence,” their parents are struggling to catch up.
“Your parents understand your independence, but as they look at you, they are scrolling through 18 years of memories,” he told the students.
During Northview High School's 136th annual Commencement ceremony at the Stranahan earlier Sunday — Northview's timeline goes back through the days when Sylvania had just one high school — Mr. Rieger asked the 325 graduating seniors to reflect on the relationships that helped them reach the peak of their educational career. Some students, he noted, have known each other for more than 13 years, and he asked them to not forget their parents.
Mike Lorenz of Toledo sat in the audience thinking of Megan, the youngest of his four daughters, graduating. His daughter Lisa Curtin handed him a tissue to wipe away tears.
“She’s the baby of the family,” Ms. Curtin explained why her dad was so emotional. Mr. Lorenz was happy for his daughter’s accomplishments and also that she chose to stay close to home for her college education. Ms. Lorenz plans to study graphics at the University of Toledo.
After the ceremony, Miss Lorenz's family lined up to watch her and her classmates throw their caps in the air on the theater’s lawn. Afterward, Miss Lorenz immediately found her family and the warm embraces began with mom Mary Beth DeLaTorre. When it came to dad, the tears flowed, and just like Mr. Rieger predicted, Mr. Lorenz hugged her a little tighter and a little longer.
“I cried when he gave that speech,” Ms. Lorenz said. “My parents were everything,” she said about her education and becoming an adult.
Three generations of Sylvania School graduates came together to celebrate one graduate's future. Chuck Cooper, 78, and Joanne Cooper, 76, took pictures with their grandson Connor Zipfel, 17. The couple came from San Tan Valley, Ariz., to see him graduate.
“We always told him to stick with it," said Mrs. Cooper, a graduate of Sylvania's old Burnham High School and the mother of three Sylvania high schools graduates.
“I’m happy, but sad at the same time,” Mr. Zipfel said. He will attend Bowling Green State University in the fall.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.