Focus is very much on the future for the Class of 2014
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
NEWARK, Del. — Even as high school graduations go, this one was very much forward looking, rather than spending a lot of time dwelling on the past.
As Unionville High School sent its 91st graduating class off into the future, front of a packed house at the Bob Carpenter Center on the Campus of the University of Delaware, virtually all of the speakers appeared to have their sights set to the horizon, in speaking to the new graduates, their families and friends, Wednesday.
Unionville High School principal Paula Massanari spoke at length about embracing dreams, using The Wizard of Oz, the classic story of a journey undertaken by a girl from Kansas, the friends she meets and the challenges she overcomes to find her way home. The story, Massanari said, offers more than a few lessons — despite coming from a 75-year-old film (and an even older novel).
“I encourage you to dream big as you look over that rainbow,” Massanari said. But, she cautioned, who you take the journey with may prove as important as the journey itself, and suggested as the new graduates head off either to additional schooling, the military or a career that the new friends they make along the way will inform the nature — and the quality — of their journey. She suggested that the graduates take care to choose wisely.
But, like Dorothy, no matter where the graduates end up in the journey of life, they can look back to see where they came from and know it is still a part of them.
“Unionville will always be your home,” she said.
Unionville-Chadds Ford Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Sanville — as seems to have been his fate throughout the 2013-14 school year — found himself speaking about weather and early-morning phone calls (noting that this class finds itself with one of the shortest senior years in recent memory, after 11 days were missed during the school year — a number of which were added to the end of the school year, long after graduation).
And yet, despite a stormy (and snowy and flood-ridden recent past) Sanville, too, focused on the future:
“From here on out, the forecast is for all of you is bright and promising,” he said.
Senior Grace Delaney spoke about the need for her classmates to remember the multitude of kindnesses provided to her and her classmates and the need to pass that on, by sharing that same kindness going forward.
Senior Brock Benzel sang his original song, captivating the audience. The unnamed song, written specifically for the graduation ceremony, also didn’t shy away from looking forward:
Where do we go from here?
It’s the beginning of our futures,
And wherever you go, I know,
You’ll shine brighter than before
Seniors Ari Bleemer and Allison Hsu did look back a bit, if only to share a witty collection of thank yous to teachers, friends and family.
Coby Stafford, just in his second year of teaching at Unionville High School, was honored as UHS Educator of The Year.
Stafford said he was both “honored and humbled” to be selected so early in his career, and pointed out that as much as he is a teacher, invariably he learns more from his students than they from him.
Still, noting that it had only been a few years since he himself had been listening to speakers at his own graduation, he want to offer a few words of advice. He broke it down into three basic thoughts:
First, be patient and persistent, second, give back to others and lastly, to listen and keep an open mind.
With that, the 335 graduates in the Class of 2014 were awarded their diplomas, amidst loud applause and a few tears.