NHS adds 64 to alumni roll

Bailey Burcroff and Cara Kowalczuk make their way to their seats during the opening procession at Northfield High School. Photo by Joseph Slacian

By Joseph Slacian

Sixty-four high school seniors turned their tassels Saturday night during commencement ceremonies at Northfield High School gym, officially becoming the school’s newest alumni.

The students, some of whom had their caps decorated with various items, walked down the aisle to the school band’s performance of “Pomp and Circumstance,” quietly making their seats in front of the stage.

They listened as classmates Erin Whetstone and Erin Proebstle gave a welcome message and brief message from the students.

Following a performance by the school’s a capella choir, Valedictorian Emily Clendenon and Salutatorian Faith Macy shared a few words of encouragement with their classmates, as well as friends and relatives who filled the bleachers and seats on the gym floor.

Clendenon shared with her classmates words of advice she received during 16 years of dance instruction. That advice includes keeping their chins up, shoulders back and to present themselves well.

“As we leave high school, we will be facing many situations in which we need to present ourselves well, whether they be job interviews, presentations or any other occasion in which you need to present yourself well,” she said. “The way you hold your body can tell someone a lot about you. So, hold your chin a little higher during that stressful presentation, breathe and roll your shoulders back to relax before that big job interview. You’ve got this.”

Clendenon also encouraged them to keep going, no matter how badly something goes wrong.

“When you face a mistake that you’ve made, own up to it, and get over it,” she said. “You have got to get past your mistakes. You’re human. Pick yourself up and keep going.”

She also encouraged them to fight through rough times, as they will only come out stronger in the end.

“Don’t feel bad if you have to rely on others to keep you going for a while, you can’t always get through things by yourself,” she said.

She also reminded them to build a team, as one can’t do everything on their own.

“Being independent is great, but when doing a group dance, your own style may not necessarily matter,” Clendenon told her classmates. “So, build up your team, because without other people, your story may be incomplete.

“Class of 2019, we’ve made it,” she continued. “Through 13 years of friendships, laughter, stress, tests and many other experiences, we finally made it to the day we’ve always looked forward to. I want to say thank you to all the faculty, family and friends that have helped me as much as the rest of my class to reach this point. I know I couldn’t have done it without such an amazing support system, so thank you.

“And class of 2019, each and every one of you has the ability to do amazing things, so lift your chin and go live life to your fullest potential and change the world.”

Macy, during her salutatorian address, said she planned on giving a lot of life advice during her talk, but then realized “there are plenty of grandparents in here that would be better at it than I would.”

Rather, she opted to talk about how those at Northfield influenced her life.

Macy noted that, as a military kid, she was used to frequent moves by her family. The move to Northfield, she said, was challenging and, what her family called, culture shock.

“But these past years at NHS have only broadened my knowledge,” she said. “The biggest thing I learned was how incredibly special Northfield is. From the teachers who push us to our fullest potential every day to the janitors who keep our building clean and even assist us in our senior prank, every adult in this school has done everything they possibly can to help us triumph.

“Individually, each and every Norseman is the epitome of exceptional strength.”

Throughout their years at Northfield, students faced numerous adversities.

“We’ve dealt with break-ups, fights and the occasional bomb threats,” Macy said. “We cried, we laughed, we grew. But the best part: We did it together, as a class – a class that feels more like family.

“Northfield has changed me for the better. When I first came to this community, I was conceited and inexperienced. Now I realize that the true test of intelligence is not class rank. It’s not the scores you get on standardized exams. It’s not grades. It’s the ability of people like you to get up, day after day when life has knocked you down, and keep thriving.

“I have a newfound respect for my fellow classmates, and I can only hope to someday be as smart, resilient and gifted as you all are.”

NHS senior Ben Nesler also addressed the class before principal Dr. Paul Voigt presented the class to superintendent Mike Keaffaber, who shared a brief message, reminding the students to be thankful for those who have helped them in their lives along the way.

Following the ceremony, the class made its way to the school’s cafeteria where they shared final hugs with one another. They also greeted family and friends, posing for a variety of photos with parents, grandparents, siblings and more.

Posted on 2019 Jun 04