Brittany Litka and Abby Parris pay tribute to Samantha Abbott.
Brittany Litka and Abby Parris pay tribute to Samantha Abbott.

Archived Story

Published 7:34pm Sunday, June 2, 2013

Special to Leader Publications

There was both laughter and tears at Buchanan High School’s graduation ceremony for the 101 members of the Class of 2013. The ceremony was held outside in the BHS football stadium before hundreds of family and friends.

The laughter came as student speakers recalled their times together during high school and thanked parents for their support including the times they made sure that students got out of bed and got to school on time. Tears came as they remembered classmate Samantha Abbott who died in a car accident with her mother in January 2012.

A chair was left empty in the front row of the students to honor her and each student wore a ribbon and held a flower in her memory.

Brittany Litka and Abby Parris gave a special tribute to their friend while all the student speakers mentioned Samantha as well as Dilan Shearer, a member of the Class of 2014, who died in a car accident in the summer of 2012.

Brittany and Abby noted the purple in the ribbons and the blue in the flowers were chosen because they were Samantha’s favorite colors. “We want to follow her example of kindness each and every day,” Abby said. “They will both always be part of the Buck family. Once a buck, always a buck.”

Student speaker Molly Walters spoke about what she and her classmates had grown during their high school years.

“Everyone has gone through trials and tribulations and they have made us stronger,” she said. “We’ve learned to be stronger and that we all need someone to lean on.

“One of those we lost was quiet and sweet while the other was loud, exciting and outgoing,” she said. “As we move forward, we will never forget them … As we move on, we know just how short life is and we know the importance of trying new things. We know who we are and the impact we can and will make.”
Abby Parris was the first of the student speakers. She started her speech quoting Eleanor Roosevelt who said the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of dreams.

She spoke of how students have grown up together through school and how parents and teachers have encouraged them along the way.

“It’s also time to thank ourselves for a job well done,” she told classmates. “Don’t cry because it’s over but smile because it happened.”

Speaker Renee Ruth provided both levity and seriousness in her remarks. She noted how life changed when she and her classmates arrived at the high school and faced more challenges including more homework.

“As we moved out of the Freshman Academy, the work was harder but we also had more fun times,” she said.

On the lighter side, she said she wanted to show appreciation for the parents for “kicking our butts when senioritis started setting in in the 10th grade” and repeated the chant she and friends wrote when they were in middle school, “we’re tough, we’re mean, we eat our greens, we are the class of 2013.”

As is the tradition, the BHS commencement started with selections from the high school band under the direction of Sharon O’Brien followed by remarks from Supt. Andrea van der Laan and the student speakers.

The ceremony concluded with the awarding of diplomas to the 101 graduating seniors. Board of Education President Harvey Burnett presented the diplomas to the seniors with three exceptions. Board members James DeVlaminck and David Zelmer presented the diplomas to their sons, James DeVlaminck III and Kyle Zelmer, while elementary teacher Mary Ward presented the diploma to her daughter, Emily Ward.

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