TEMPLETON — What do Herman Munster, William Shakespeare, the great Mrs. Mayer, Oscar Wilde and Ellen DeGeneres all have in common? Their words were used by speakers to help make points at the Templeton High School Commencement Ceremony on June 6 at Mike Erb Stadium.
One hundred and sixty-five graduates received their diplomas in front of friends and family. Vincent Corella delivered the Valedictorian Address and Nathan Lebens the Salutatorian Address.
Corella recounted the time spent with many classmates who have been together since kindergarten and pointed out some of their high school milestones and significant accomplishments.
“Each of us is unique. We have our own strengths and weaknesses that make us the one-of-a-kind individuals that we are today,” Corella said. “Beyond our academic prowess, we have excelled in other areas such as athletics, FFA, band, school clubs and community service and one of us even became a SoundCloud rapper.”
Corella noted that the accomplishments of the Class of 2019 were possible because of the people behind the scenes — teachers, mentors and coaches.
He spoke of a trying time when as a sophomore he was sick and missed a month of school. He put the spotlight on teacher Davina White who volunteered to be his home hospital teacher.
“Without her help and my other teachers’ willingness to facilitate my transition back into school, I would have been unable to learn the material or maintain my grades,” he said.
He concluded with a quote, “We know what we are, but not what we may be,” from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
“Whatever your path may be, continue to persevere and follow your passions,” Corella said.
Salutatorian Lebens kept his speech light and mostly humorous.
“I will keep this as short as possible because I know that no one will remember anything I say anyway,” Lebens said.
Lebens thanked his parents, the “best teachers” in the county, fellow graduate Kylee Tachovsky for “being the best friend ever,” his extended family and reserved one thank you for a special group.
“Although all of those thank yous are important, I feel that by far the biggest thank you that I have to give are to the writers of SparkNotes, Shmoop, and CliffsNotes and Yahoo Answers. I truly, truly would not have made it through without you guys,” he said to a round of laughter and applause.
Lebens said it was important to work and push yourself hard, but to be careful this way of thinking can consume a person. He made this point by recounting a turning point when as a sophomore he struggled with the AP European History class taught by Paula Hanson.
“Before this moment, naive, somewhat arrogant, ignorant, early high school me felt like I could literally handle anything,” he said. “But by thinking this way I was simply doing too much. When I met with Mrs. Hansen she reminded me that there was no reason for me to not enjoy my entire sophomore year. Had I stayed in the class, not only would I have received a poor grade, my other grades would have suffered, my social life would have deteriorated and I wouldn’t have been able to take part in the extra-curriculars that I actually did enjoy. But most of importantly I would not have been as happy.”
He offered some parting advice for his fellow graduates.
“Finishing college, starting a family and growing old will all come a lot sooner than we all think and so always remember to live in the present and have childlike foolishness,” he said. “As the great (teacher) Mrs. (Cece) Mayer says, ‘You are statistically significant so go live a significant life.’”
The words of Wilde and DeGeneres came at the tail-end of teacher Ben Weinberger’s Commencement Address.
“To quote someone I enjoy, Oscar Wilde, ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken,’” he said. “As I leave you now, I’d like to finish with one last quote, ‘Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path. By all means, follow that path.’ Ellen DeGeneres. Have a great journey Class of 2019.”
During his welcome, THS Principal Erik Lewis, who is returning the classroom next year to teach History, thanked the staff and parents for their contributions to the THS Class of 2019’s success.
“You have done us a great honor to entrust us with your great contribution to eternity, your children. So here tonight when each of your children walk across the stage to receive their diploma, they will carry with them each a part of you, and a part of us for the remainder of their days.”
He concluded with a quote from “the great 1960s philosopher” Herman Munster, “The lesson I want you to learn is it doesn’t matter what you look like. You can be tall, short or fat or thin or handsome; or you can be black, yellow or white; it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the size of your heart and the strength of your character?
“Good luck Templeton High School Class of 2019. We love you and you will be missed,” Lewis said.