With the crowd on their feet and 175 seniors filing in to officially bookend their high school education, the 2014 Commencement Services of Allendale High School began with the first notes of Pomp and Circumstance last Thursday, May 22.
The fifteen-minute processional featured young men and female walking partners carrying a long-stemmed class flower, the Black Gerbera Daisy. After finding their seats, students were welcomed by senior Dayton Wierenga who recited Jeremiah 29:11 after taking a “selfie” that Mr. Remenap jokingly declared “the first official cell phone violation at a graduation ceremony.” After an opening prayer by Wierenga and remarks from Mr. Remenap, Superintendent Jonker took the stage.
With heartfelt recollection, Dr. Jonker reminded students of their personal grit and character, and gave an affirming nod to the families that journeyed with each of them:
“When you started school in Kindergarten, America was shocked by the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center, now you are graduating and a new skyscraper, museum, and memorial stand where those buildings once stood. This is just one example of the resiliency of our nation and the fortitude of people to move forward, but never forget. We all can learn from our experiences. Some of those experiences may not have been pleasant, but we can take that knowledge and turn it into the foundation of a strong and persevering character.
Your parents are to be congratulated for helping you get to this point. They have sacrificed much out of their love for you and hope for your future. I hope you take the time to thank them for their dedication to your success. Their service to you above self should be a lesson you embody for the rest of your life.”
Mr. Remenap injected some humor when he reminded the graduating class that their very first day of freshman orientation included a power outage. He recalled the progress they’d made during their four years at Allendale High and stopped to remember David Aguilar, the then-7th grader who died on a 2009 family trip to Mexico to visit family over the Christmas holiday. David’s parents, David and Claudia were in attendance in his memory.
After the band and choirs performed and the Salutatorian and Valedictorian offered their own speeches, graduates took to the stage, finally laying hold of their coveted diplomas.
Dr. Jonker’s remarked included a quote from the poet Robert Frost. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
This spring—and for these graduates—we hope they find the courage to take the road less traveled; to be the unique individuals they were made to be, and to charter new paths without looking back. This spring, may these graduates find their wings to soar as Falcons set free. Best of luck, Class of 2014!