It was a night of celebrating 363 Stillwater High seniors Friday at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“Every year I’m shocked that there is some historical differences to each class,” Principal Uwe Gordon said.
Accomplishments for the class of 2017 include graduating 68 valedictorians, the most all-time; having four academic all-staters – Allana Caldwell, Deven Chakraborty, Saskia Ghosh and Kaustuvi Thapa – which recognizes academic excellence and is the highest total in the state this year; and raising more than $390,000 the past three years, including a record high $170,000 in cash and donations this year during the student-run philanthropic fundraising campaign known as Stillwater Makes A Change.
“They have been a good crew,” Gordon said.
Gordon also bragged about athletics including the girls swim team, which won its third-straight state title, and the boys soccer team, which advanced to the state championship game for the first time in school history.
“The boys soccer team was amazing,” Gordon said. “That was a fun run.”
Micah Herrmann, 18, a valedictorian, soccer player and cross-country runner, said he will miss his friends and the bonds he created playing sports.
He plans to study actuarial and financial mathematics at OSU this fall, but playing soccer somewhere in the future is still a possibility.
“I really liked my statistics teacher, Mr. (Larry) Hesler,” Herrmann said.
He plans to get a master’s degree and become an actuary, which is a person who analyzes risk.
“It seems like a cool degree,” Herrmann said.
Victor Miller, 18, said she is going to miss high school but she is looking forward to heading to Ohio State University where she plans to major in neuroscience and possibly go to medical school.
Outgoing Stillwater High assistant principal Frank McClain, who was with the district more than 40 years, got the honor of asking the students to move their tassel from one side of their cap to the other, signifying their graduation from high school.
The senior class officers, who organized and spoke at the graduation, chose retiring Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services and former Richmond Elementary Principal Gay Washington to be the keynote speaker.
Washington shared the story of "The Tree of Life," asking students to reflect back on who their mentors have been during their education the past 13 years, those that helped them develop strong roots.
“It is important to pause this evening and thank your anchors and roots from childhood,” Washington said.
Senior Class Secretary Payton Price thanked parents, family and faculty for all they have done.
Our teachers taught us to succeed and believed in our potential, she said.
Price also thanked McClain for his years of service.
“Thank you for your impact on our school and our lives,” Price said.
Senior Class President Chance Cain had a little fun with his speech.
We went to preschool, elementary school, middle school and finally prison. I mean junior high. Sorry Mr. Fields, Cain joked during his speech.
Cain spent most of his speech talking about what it means to be a Pioneer and encourage his classmates to blaze their own path.
“The choice isn’t which path to take but which path to make,” Cain said.
Graduation is the first step, the rest is up to you, Cain said.