Nearly 600 Sylvania students made the symbolic walk Sunday across the Stranahan Theater stage, transitioning from students to graduates.
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Southview and Northview high schools held graduation ceremonies back-to-back at the Stranahan, with Southview’s at 1 p.m. and Northview’s at 4 p.m.
“You have inspired us to be better educators,” Superintendent Brad Rieger told the classes of 2014.
In her address, Julie Hoffman, school board vice president, pushed the students to challenge themselves to be kind, live life with purpose, and to make important relationships in their lives a priority.
PHOTO GALLERY: Northview graduation
PHOTO GALLERY: Southview graduation
She left the students to ponder the words from recently deceased poet Maya Angelou. “People will never forget how you made them feel,” Ms. Hoffman quoted the poet.
Northview had 293 graduating seniors; Southview had 298.
“What high school is really about is breaking expectations,” Southview Valedictorian Logan Sander told the class. “If I had stopped at what I thought I could do, I would not be at this point.” She will attend Princeton in the fall to study comparative literature.
When the ceremonies concluded, Southview students gathered on the lawn, hugging each other and posing for pictures. Some even lit up a congratulatory cigar.
“This is just a tradition that I’m carrying on.” William Koester, 18, said, while holding a cigar. “My brother did the same when he graduated.”
“I have a lot of emotions,” Mr. Koester said. “But like Mr. Rieger said, graduation is a launchpad.”
Mr. Koester plans to attend Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., for its intelligence studies program and play lacrosse. His goal is to work for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Northview Salutatorian Dominik Konik, ranking second in his class, stuck his tongue out at his sister in the audience for ranking third when she graduated three years ago. After that gesture, which garnered laughs from the more than 2,000 guests, he asked the graduating class to pose with him for a selfie and encouraged them to live to the fullest.
“YOLO,” he said. Indeed, You Only Live Once.
After the Northview ceremonies, the class gathered on the green for one giant salute, tossing their caps in the air. Parents snapped photos, and some wiped away tears.
For graduate Helena Saaka, 18, she knew that Sunday’s good-bye was just a “see you soon” for her and her close friends.
“I’m super-duper happy. A lot of us are going to the University of Toledo and Lourdes University, or Owens [Community College],” she said. She will attend Lourdes in the fall to study biology.