SHERIDAN — Sheridan High School said goodbye to almost 200 graduates Sunday afternoon on Homer Scott Field.
It was apparent, as with any high school graduation, Sunday afternoon’s 2013 event that SHS carried varying degrees of importance to everyone involved.
For commencement speaker Doug Raney, it was a goodbye of sorts, as the psychology teacher retires after 41 years at the school this year.
“This is what old school really looks like,” he joked.
Principal Dirlene Wheeler reminded students this was their one last oratory sit-through before freedom from the barriers of high school. Wheeler said 183 were scheduled to participate in the ceremony Sunday, with 190 total students receiving diplomas in the class of 2013. The class has attained $2.1 million in scholarship money, Wheeler said, with the final amount still to be determined.
“I know from research that few of you will remember anything that was said today,” she said Sunday afternoon as the opening speaker. “But you will remember the friendships you have made and the hard lessons you have learned.”
The bleachers facing Homer Scott Field were packed, and late-spring hailstorm clouds held off just long enough for the hour and a half ceremony to finish, releasing 190 Broncs and Lady Broncs from the largest bind of their pre-adolescent lives. But first, whether they absorbed it or not, they were privy to four different speeches.
Wheeler’s message was one hinged on hard work. She advised students to stay positive, even remembering to exercise as a tool in combating negative influences.
“We need to live life looking for opportunities to serve our fellow man,” Wheeler said.
That fellow man, salutatorian Meghan Jacobs later reminded, could be found in variety through the rows of seated graduates on the track facing the football field Sunday.
“Diesel mechanics, poets, artists, photographers, chemists, doctors lawyers,” Jacobs listed, “and even people who can weld metal into a bouquet of roses.”
She recognized the 13 students going into the armed forces from the class of 2013.
Valedictorian Jin Woo Kim addressed his classmates with plenty of advice as well, saying “we finally made it,” openly breaking his own rule of avoiding over-used graduation speech lines.
“Excel in everything you do, not enough just to get by,” Kim said. “Find what you love to do and do it.”
Kim remembered how his class had grown together from the little spats in elementary school all the way to the school unity that comes with something like a 4A state football championship they attained as juniors.
Raney took the podium last, joking: “You learned that life can be a scary place, especially if you can’t find your phone,” he said.
The psychology teacher Raney concluded by retelling a lesson from his class: nature vs. nurture.
Up to this point, he explained, the combination of genes of any given student, which was dealt like a hand of cards, nature, has mixed with how they were affected by the people in their lives and homes they grew up in, nurture.
He implored the young adults to use what they’ve learned in that formula as they went forward.
“The critical element is now you,” he said.