MERCERVILLE — The shoes that will change your life can come in many shapes and colors, so find a pair that will make you happy.
That’s what South Gallia High School co-valedictorian Madison Vandeborne urged her fellow classmates to do Friday night during commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2016.
“For some, (those shoes) will be your white nursing shoes; others (it may be) your professional dress shoes, and for some of you, (it will be) your combat boots,” she said during her address to the class. “Every day when you put on those shoes and go out into the world, you will be making a difference. Many people’s lives have been changed because of one pair of shoes. You will know when you find them. You might go through multiple pairs until you find the ones that make you happy, but when you do, you will always want to keep them.”
A total of 47 students waited in anticipation of the moment when they could turn the tassel and finally call themselves South Gallia alumni. The ceremony, conducted inside a sweltering hot gymnasium despite the air conditioning, lasted a little more than an hour from start to finish.
Superintendent Jude Meyer addressed the Class of 2016, saying he hopes they heed his advice to thank the people in their lives who have helped them get to this point.
“Please find those people that you need to say ‘thank you’ to,” he said. “There are people who helped you get to where you are tonight, and I think it’s really important that you see those people and thank them for their help that led you to this destination.”
Meyer also urged the class to encounter life’s hardships with a level head.
“As you go through life, you’re going to encounter different obstacles,” he said. “When you do, leap with your ears and follow with your mouth. Simply stated, you can learn a lot by listening prior to being the one that has to speak first.”
Salutatorian Tiffany Beaver followed and told the class she hoped they would look back on their time together at South Gallia High School with fond memories.
“I really wish that we were not all going our separate ways, but you guys are going to do amazing things,” she said. “I already know that. But do not ever forget where you came from and all the people that made you who you are.”
Co-valedictorian Mariah Hineman echoed Meyers advice, saying she wouldn’t be where she is today if it were not for the loved ones in her life.
“Cherish the friends and family that support you and thank God for blessing you with them,” she said. “It is from having these friends and family that have helped shape me into the person I am today. They have so much to do with who I am and I can never thank them enough.”
The keynote speaker for the evening was Dr. Timothy Webb, a Gallia County native and 2003 South Gallia High School graduate currently living and practicing family medicine in Miami.
Michelle Riffle then announced numerous scholarship awards earned by the Class of 2016, which was followed by the presentation of diplomas by Principal Bray Shamblin and and teacher Dafney Davis.
Class President Mikayla Poling then told the class to “turn their tassels” and pulled out a “selfie stick” for what has become the traditional graduation class photo.
And with that, South Gallia’s senior class instantly became official graduates.
Those graduating were:
Tiffany Beaver, Caleb Berry, Breanna Bevan, Owen Bevan, Kirstin Burnette, Hunter Calhoun, Alyssa Campbell, Tyler Carpenter, Megan Cochran, Nathan Colburn, Kelsey Corbin, Miranda Corey, Justin Crago, Tristin Davis, Darrin Drenner Jr., Joseph Ehman, Isaiah Geiger, Dakota Hammond, Courtney Haner, Mariah Hineman, Christian Hutchinson, Landon Hutchinson, Dominick Johnson, Tessa McGuire, Cuyler Mills, Jena Mullins, Jared Nolan, Ashley Northup, Ryan Oshel, Mikayla Poling, Kelsey Pugh, Cory Rhodes, Zackary Rodgers, Harold Rutt III, Jacob Saunders, Austin Spaulding, Allyssa Stapleton, William Strait Jr., Joseph Swords, Madison Vandeborne, Caitlyn VanScoy, Maggie Wallace, Carrie Watson, Kalob Watson, Austin White, Kayelynn Williams and Jayla Wolford.
Burnette, Hineman, Mills, Stapleton, Vandeborne and Wolford each each met state requirements for Honor Diplomas.
“I want to congratulate the Class of 2016,” Meyer said. “You’re at the finish line of a great, great journey.”
Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.