Wildcat grads go forth to conquer the world

Alana Bouchard-Wessel (left) and Donovan Ballerini.
Alana Bouchard-Wessel (left) and Donovan Ballerini.

Tassels were turned. Diplomas handed out. Mortar boards tossed in the air. Hugs exchanged.

Oxford’s Class of 2017 bid a fond farewell to high school life during the commencement held June 6 at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Independence Township.

A total of 375 of Oxford’s 404 graduates walked across that big stage, a symbolic bridge linking the simplicity and security of childhood to the complexity and uncertainty of adulthood.

“Know that your family, friends and the community of Oxford will be cheering you on, no matter where your journey takes you,” said Superintendent Tim Throne. “Go Wildcats!”

A total of 174 members of the class graduated with academic honors.

At the very top of the academic mountain were valedictorians Katlin Brantley and Peter Veltigian, followed by salutatorians Solomon Long and Ethan Cutler.

Brantley told her fellow graduates there’s no way to guarantee the world will become a better place simply because they’re going to be in it pursuing their passions and careers.

“But there’s one thing we can contribute with certainty – we can make the world a little bit more like a small town,” she said.

“Now, I understand that many of us want to leave behind this town for something we see as more exciting or rich with opportunity,” Brantley continued. “On the one hand, I’m eager to see what we can achieve independently from those we’ve relied on for so long.”

But she urged her classmates to always keep one thing in mind – “This town, although small, created the young adults that we are today.”

“Whether we noticed it or not, we grew up in the type of community that they (write) storybooks about. We’re the lucky children from the movies,” Brantley said. “We were always taught that anything you’re willing to work for is within reach and that conflict can be resolved through a little bit of empathy and compromise . . . The world could use a little more of those small-town lessons.

“So as much as you may like to forget this gravel pit town and never look back, resist that urge and reflect on everything this place and these people have done for you.”

“Let’s go out there and give the Oxford Leader something to talk about, our parents something to brag about and our teachers something to feel proud of,” she continued.

“Make the most of the person that was built here and never take others’ kindness for granted. Most of all, I hope you share the greatest lessons we’ve learned here and that you treat the rest of the world like an extension of Oxford.”

Oxford’s other Top Scholars were Luke Auchter, Brooke Boger, Grace Cleland, Jonathan Decker, Kaitlyn Ender, Charity Garner, Tia Gilles, Clare Godfryd, Sidney Hamen, Brooke Hebb, Chloe Jones, Danielle Kemp, Nicole Kessler, Katelyn Kroon, Kallan Lindstrom, Micah Luckett, Ashley Prusa, Haley Rau, Luke Rolling, Jade Schramm and Olivia Upham.


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