EHS students celebrate how school has shaped them
Published 12:11 pm Monday, June 1, 2015
Co-valedictorian Alexander Freshour had the packed house at the Edwardsburg High School gymnasium rolling in laughter Sunday as he held up a prop to reveal the theme of his 2015 commencement speech: Play-Doh.
“Not the philosopher from way back, but the cool squishy stuff that kids use to make all sorts of creations,” the blue-gowned teen said to his 210 graduating classmates after showing off the jar of the orange substance. “When I was a young kid, I loved playing with Play-Doh. At school. At home. It was just the greatest stuff to play with. When I become an elementary school teacher, I look forward to finding ways to incorporate it in class!”
“Anyway, playing with Play-Doh as a kid, I could make anything I imagined as long as I kept to one rule: DO NOT MIX THE PLAY-DOH! Adults never wanted us to mix the Play-Doh because things got messy and the colors were hard to separate. My young mind did not really comprehend this, so I was usually just upset that my creations were limited to single colors.”
When he came to Edwardsburg from a small private school, Alex said, he had no idea what to expect, but that he thought that maybe the students were going to be like that Play-Doh, each their own colors and not allowed to mix.
Alex said he found out that couldn’t be farther from the truth, that the students were allowed to be whoever they wanted to be and blend their amazing talents and “colors” with one another.
“When we mix Play-Doh, colors combine in an amazing way. We see the Play-Doh differently, with more awe than before,” he said. “Mixing the Play-Doh puts us on a path of discovering the unknown brilliance within us. We must not be afraid to be creative and take chances in the futures that we begin now.”
“Our different futures, different careers, will allow us to help shape and mold the Play-Doh presented to us. By mixing the Play-Doh, we can discover new things and open the door to a better experience for ourselves in the world. Mixing the Play-Doh shows us how to accept the diversity around us. Edwardsburg allowed us the opportunity to understand who we were, that we aren’t just solid colors of Play-Doh, but unique and individual. Now is the time for us to go out into the world and do something with it.”
Fellow valedictorian Adam Gnott thanked all the people who helped he and his classmates make it this far and reminisced about the good times they shared during their school years.
“As we look back on our long journey to graduation, our minds will be flooded with countless memories. Each student here will have different reflections as he or she journeys through life. For me, I will remember recess football games in the Intermediate School that were probably more competitive than they needed to be,” Adam said. “I will also remember the homecoming and home games that seem to have the entire village of Edwardsburg in attendance. Memories of Edwardsburg will stay with us for the rest of our lives, no matter where life takes us.”
Adam, who plans to attend Michigan State University to study biomedical engineering, also talked about the talent within the class of 2015 and what they can accomplish.
“I would like to end this speech with a meaningful quote from one of the greatest football coaches ever: Lou Holtz. He said, ‘Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.’ So, fellow classmates, let’s discover and embrace our God-given talents and abilities, learn what motivates us, and then pursue our dreams with an attitude of perseverance and enthusiasm. Class of 2015, I wish you all the best. It has been an honor to be on your team.”
Co-salutatorian Olivia Bachteal, who came to Edwardsburg as a junior, talked about her experiences and how these will shape her life.
“There’s nothing holding us back, and there’s nothing stopping us from following our dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt once said. ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,’ and I firmly stand by these words. Our future and generations past and present remains in our hands, and if we want to make the most of it, we have to pursue our dreams in any way we can, it is our responsibility to do so. Whether we want to change the world across the street or across the country is up to us, but making a difference is one thing we have complete control over.”
Becky Oppman used her salutatorian speech to urge her classmates to let this be the beginning, not the end of their achievements.
“Class of 2015: first off, congratulations. You’ve made it to the pinnacle of your achievements, and I commend each and every one of you. But I also urge you to continue doing more: don’t let this be the peak in your lives,” she said. “Be a leader. Shine brighter. Work harder. Laugh along the way. And most importantly, don’t forget that YOU get to pave your own path. Don’t veer down in the wrong direction and regret that decision later in life. Be the most outstanding person you can be.”