by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
Members of Lancaster High School’s Class of 2017 shared some laughter and some tears, did some dabbin’ and some dancin’ and took a class selfie last Saturday during commencement in the school’s gymnasium.
Graduates also honored the memory of a late class member.
Class president and salutatorian Wyatt McCranie said he thought he’d be able to say “Finally. I’m so glad it’s over.” But McCranie said, “That’s not the case. We are family.”
Graduating is bittersweet. It’s a celebration of accomplishment and thoughts of future successes but it’s also a time when lifelong friends also separate for the first time.
But, McCranie told his fellow classmates and friends, “The best is yet to come for the Class of 2017.”
According to McCranie, his class will have 31 attending community colleges, 32 attending four year colleges, 17 entering the workforce, two entering the military, two attending trade school and two going into the Job Corps.
Regardless of religious backgrounds, he said, “we can all agree on one thing. We’re all born and we all die. And that little space in between is our guarantee. That’s what we’re promised.”
He stressed to classmates that they didn’t want to “lie on your death bed and regret a single thing. Live each day as if it’s your last.”
Valedictorian Jahlil Nickens said that “from ninth grade until now, none of us can say we haven’t changed, whether it was physically, mentally or spiritually.”
Nickens told fellow graduates “we’re young and many of us don’t know what we’ll do and we’ll make mistakes, but hopefully we’ll live and grow from them.”
He said all of his successes, and the successes of his classmates, didn’t happen without the help of others, whether it was family, friends, mentors or teachers. And he thanked everyone who had a hand in those successes.
Teacher and coach Craig Oren was one of those teachers, according to the Class of 2017, which selected him as the guest faculty speaker.
Oren said occasionally his students would let a four-letter word slip here or there, so he wanted to discuss a four-letter word: WORK. The future, he said, “is not about working to get a paycheck or get a degree.” Instead, he encouraged graduates to “work hard to be successful,” no matter what career path is chosen.
“Dreams are just fantasies, unless you work hard to achieve it,” he said.
Oren said focus on the four themes he derived from the word work. One, work hard to be successful. Two, take pride in your work. Three, work towards perfection and four, work because you can.
Oren recounted a story about Thomas Edison receiving a note from his teachers when he was a child. His teachers said he was hyperactive, prone to distraction and difficult to teach.
“So how did a hyperactive child, prone to distraction, deemed difficult by his teacher become the genius of the century? He worked hard.”
Oren ended by quoting Ian Brennan. “You can’t control how smart you are, how funny you are, or how good looking you are. The one thing you can control in your life is how hard you work.
“So, go out and work hard to be successful,” said Oren. “Take pride in your work. Work towards perfection and work because you can.”