Union High School Class of 2015 celebrates with commencement
Published 12:23 pm Monday, June 1, 2015
As can be expected from a standout lineman and wrestler, 2015 Dowagiac Union High School Valedictorian Tristan Howard framed the high school careers of himself and the other members of the Class of 2015 as a hard fought-battle.
Starting off bright-eyed freshmen, the class became hardened through the rigors of pop quizzes, lengthy reports and loads of homework. After overcoming the challenge of studying and taking the ACT their junior year, the class had finally arrived at the apex of their high school careers — senior year.
“This was the championship round, “Howard said in his speech before his assembled classmates. “All we had to do was make it here and we won. We made it and thrived and finished our growth into what we are now.”
Howard was one of the 120 young men and women who received their trophy for triumphing in this long, four-year contest, in the form of diploma.
The Class of 2015 celebrated the end of their K-12 education on Sunday afternoon, inside the confines of the Dowagiac Union High School gymnasium. Originally scheduled to take place on Chris Taylor Alumni Field, the ceremony was moved indoors due to the forecasted rainstorms that moved into the area this weekend.
Despite the dreary weather outside, spirits remained bright inside, as hundreds of parents, family members and friends cheered on the departing seniors as they transitioned into the next phases of their lives.
Superintendent Paul Hartsig, who many of the graduating class once knew as the principal of the high school, delivered some quick stats about the group of seniors sitting in front of him at the podium: 40 of them were graduating with honors, 26 of them with high honors, and 100 percent of them had plans for what they are doing after graduation.
With a high school career marked with numerous academic and athletic achievements, including big wins over rivals in football and wrestling, the valedictorian said his biggest memories over the last four years will be of the moments he enjoyed with teammates and friends. Before closing his speech, he urged his classmates to look at the people sitting next to them, and to remember this moment for the rest of their lives.
“Make sure you look these people in the eyes. Make eye contact and remember these people,” Howard said. “Tonight may be your last time seeing each of these people. After tonight we all enter the world as adults. Remember your friends and have a great time with them.”
Salutatorian Kasey Smith shared similar kind words with the class during her speech, saying she will cherish her memories of each of her classmates, even the ones she only shared a few words with during their time together at Dowagiac Union High School.