Sunshine for Jefferson 2018 High School Graduation

For the 53rd time, Jefferson Township High School graduates received their diplomas. The ceremony was held on Thursday, June 21. The class of 2018 was the 51st to spend all four years at the high school building, which opened with three classes in 1964.

The graduates process. (Photo: Jane Primerano)
Processing graduates shield their eyes from the sun. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

The graduation featured speeches from valedictorian Kalen Luciano and salutatorian Ryan Schmidt.

Salutatorian Ryan Schmidt and valedictorian Kalen Luciano during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Ryan reminded his fellow graduates of the days they believed nothing could be harder than long division. He had recently re-watched The Lion King and thought about the philosophy of “hakuna matata,” or no worries. It’s okay to worry, he said, as long as you study hard, work harder, and take lessons from your challenges and failures. “We can make a difference,” he told his peers.

“It truly does take a village to raise a child,” Kalen said, thanking his family, his teachers, and his classmates. “We’re not ignorant of adulthood; we’ve spent time watching and learning. We have a choice about what we take with us and what we leave behind.” He added that “a smile speaks volumes; happiness is infectious.” Kalen urged his classmates to tackle challenges. “Don’t throw away your shot; the world needs each of us. We are the next generation of powerful voices.”

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Valedictorian Kalen Luciano gives his address at graduation. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Acting superintendent Jeanne Howe remembered speaking to the class four years ago at their middle school graduation. This was her last act as principal before becoming assistant superintendent. She had spoken about ladders and urged the students to “step back and see how high you’ve climbed.”

Acting superintendent of schools Jeanne Howe speaks to the graduates. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Principal Timothy Plotts asked the graduates to think of all the changes in their four years at Jefferson, including air conditioning in the auditorium. He also noted the launch of the “makerspace” innovation lab, improving advanced placement test scores, and an increase in performing arts and athletic achievements.

Principal Timothy Plotts speaks to the graduates. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Board of Education president Jill Van Ness told the grads to “appreciate your families. For 13 years they hated those projects as much as you did. While you whined, they had a glass of wine.” She urged them to choose to make every day a success and reminded them that they have left a mark on their teachers, peers, and community.

Board of Education president Jill Van Ness speaks to the students. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Chorus director James Wynne composed a song for the class titled “Farewell Is Not Goodbye,” and the chorus performed it.

The high school chorus leads the crowd in the school’s alma mater. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

The class roll was called by Brittney Ajaj, president of the National Honor Society, and Mikayla Gall, senior class president.

National Honor Society president Brittany Ajaj and senior class president Mikayla Gall prepare to read their classmates’ names. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

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