By Kevin Kelley
Board of Education President Joe Shucofsky expressed what many parents
of Fairview High School graduates undoubtedly thought as their children marched into Lakewood Civic Auditorium for the class of 2013’s commencement ceremony June 4: That in a blink of an eye, the graduates went from wide-eyed 5-year-olds attending their first day of kindergarten to the young adults wearing their caps and gowns.
Shucofsky told graduates that each has a unique dream or talent that each should share with the world.
“There may be times when you may feel as if you are in competition with every single person around you,” Shucofsky said, adding that schools contribute to that feeling with seemingly constant testing.
“And yet my own experience suggests that the most successful business people, athletes, students and others are those who understand that their greatest and most meaningful competition actually comes from within themselves,” he said.
Yet Fairview High School Principal Brady Sheets told students they faced a world much more competitive than previous generations had.
“You’re rarely going to need to worry about catching up with the person in front of you,” he said. “Instead, you’re going to need to maintain a distance ahead of the person behind you.”
In a rapidly changing world, experience is not necessarily as valuable as it once was, Sheets said.
The principal told graduates not to rely on past experiences to reach their goals but instead create new experiences. He also told them to focus on life’s positives – what they have instead of what they don’t have. Recent events in this country, Sheets said, underscore the need to do this.
“From Hurricane Sandy, to Sandy Hook, to Oklahoma City, there have been some real tragedies in this country,” the principal said. “Yet the families impacted by these events will overcome them when they remain focused on the positives in their lives.”
In her salutatorian speech, Caroline Weaver said it’s important for individuals to make the most of what life gives them. Weaver, who attended St. Angela Merici School through grade 8, suggested that public schools offer opportunities just as good as those in private schools, as long as a student takes advantage of them.
“To me, ‘private school’ and ‘public school’ are just names,” she said.
“An individual can be the star football player, one of the students with the highest GPA in the class or even Juliet in the high school play,” she said. “But first that person must choose to go after what they want and dedicate themselves to it.”
Valedictorian Noel Novak compared high school to climbing a dinosaur statue at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History as a child. As freshman, they started out unsure, she recalled.
“But over the past four years, as we have climbed our way to being seniors, we have learned many important things,” she said.
Rosalie Morrison said it has been amazing to see how the class members have grown and changed over the years.
“It’s a little exciting not knowing what’s going to happen next,” Morrison said. “But we will always have each other because Fairview families are forever.”
In addition to noting the various idiosyncrasies of several faculty members, class president Kelsey Lorko recounted various obstacles the “lucky” class of 2013 alone endured in their march to senior-year status, such as missing a grade-school field trip because the levy failed, or being the class that just missed getting netbook computers.
Lorko then closed the ceremony with this advice: “Leave a lasting mark, whether it be by helping somebody cross Lorain Road or by joining the Peace Corps.”
“Imagine the future you want and believe that you have what it takes to create a wonderful life, which you all deserve because you do,” Lorko said. “Just be yourself and you’re all guaranteed to succeed.”