“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.”
Let that quote, taken from author J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Hobbit,” be our advice to the Wellington Class of 2016 after its members turned tassels Sunday in the high school’s 142nd commencement ceremony.
Valedictorian Andrew Rodriguez liberally referenced the British fantasy author in a speech to the class.
“Never laugh at live dragons,” he quoted, adding: “Don’t be afraid to have fun on the adventure but never fail to realize the reality of the challenges we face along the way. Great monsters and wicked men are not confined to the fictitious words of fantastical writers. we must carve out a place in this world for ourselves so we might have our own little hobbit-hole, a place to build a family and a place to which that family may return.”
The interesting thing about finishing high school is that, while an important accomplishment, it also marks the very easiest leg of the adventure students were born to live, Rodriguez said.
“Once you hold that diploma in your hand, the adventure truly begins. There is no longer an invisible hand guiding every aspect of your life. You hold your own fate in your hand, wear it upon your finger, carry it with you wherever you go, but there is a responsibility that comes with that power you bear. We do not know the way but we take this responsibility nonetheless.”
For some, the journey ahead is not mapped out step for step.
Senior class president April Mechling said while some students have concrete plans they can articulate well, others are facing uncertainty. They wouldn’t have all the big answers to all the big post-high school questions as they stepped off the stage with diplomas in hand, she said.
Lorain County JVS honor student Rachelle Brown said she was grateful that teachers did open so many doors to help prepare her for the adventure.
She graduated with 35 college credits after attending half-day courses at Lorain County Community College, providing a head start on both a career and life outside of high school.
“The JVS made me figure out who I was as a person,” she said, thanking instructors who pushed her to excel.
One hundred eleven students walked Sunday to receive their papers.
Of those, 10 receive honors diplomas, 28 finished with GPAs of 3.5 or greater, 15 were members of the National Honor Society, five were National Technical Honor Society members, and eight are candidates to serve in the U.S. military.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Wellington Enterprise WHS Class of 2016 valedictorian Andrew Rodriguez steps to the podium to speak. “I’ve spent seven hours of almost every day, of almost every week, of almost every month of the last four years of my brief life learning how enjoyable many of these students are,” he said. “I cannot express how grateful I am for the opportunity and the honor of speaking to them one last time before we part ways.”