Ciaira Jackson, left, takes a picture of fellow graduates before the Perrysburg graduation ceremony at the Stranahan Theater on Sunday.
Ryan Peiffer stood in front of a packed Stranahan Theater in Toledo, with the Perrysburg High School graduating class of 2013 sitting behind him and he talked about eating live goldfish.
He was one of three student speakers and 343 graduating seniors at the Perrysburg High School graduation ceremony Sunday.
Mr. Peiffer, the class salutatorian, told stories of some of his memorable moments in high school and his youth. He talked about how things that sounded strange and gross, like swallowing live goldfish, became something they flaunted as seniors.
PHOTO GALLERY: Perrysburg High School graduation
"We are ending our youth, and when we can be goofy kids," he said.
The Stranahan Theater lower level and balcony was packed with family members pointing out and waving to graduates, taking photos, and at times fighting back emotion.
Karen Miller attended her second out of what she expects to be three straight Perrysburg High graduations. This year her son Colin Miller graduated, following daughter Dayna last year and with son Darren entering next year's senior class.
"I'm so proud of him, that he was able to get all the way there," she said. "It is pretty exciting."
Colin's grandfather, Bill Masters, was excited to be at the event, but said he knows he has another one to go to next year.
Mary Margaret Richards traveled from Kenton to see her granddaughter, Stephanie Richards, walk across the stage. The young Richards graduated with honors and plans to attend Lourdes University in Sylvania with a partial volleyball scholarship.
"I used to think what is the big deal? Everyone graduates. But graduating starts a new phase in life. Stephanie is going to her next phase in life," Ms. Richards said.
Young Richards expects follow in her father's and grandmother's footsteps of being a nurse, which makes her grandmother "very proud."
Perrysburg Principal Michael Short had the unique privilege to give his son Patrick Short his diploma and congratulate him on stage.
Perrysburg Board of Education member Barry Van Hoozen's son graduated last year.
"It was emotional to see the culmination of all the years of trying to be a good parent," Mr. Van Hoozen said. "When they get the diploma, after all the years of trials and tribulations, it is nothing short of thrilling."
Valedictorian John Gadient sent a Tweet out during his speech describing some of the scary and exciting challenges for the graduates going to college, the military, or straight into a career. He took time to thank the "many" graduates that are planning to enlist in the military.
Class President Annie Rutherford said she has always felt like the grade's mother.
"Twelve years of hard work has led to this," she said. "I'm very proud to graduate from Perrysburg High School."
Ms. Rutherford thanked her parents, teachers, principals and classmates.
"The greatest joy for a school board member is to see kids walk across that stage beaming," said Gretchen Downs, the school board's president.
Contact Matt Thompson at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.
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