Class of 2019 takes trip down Memory Lane - Titusville Herald: News

Class of 2019 takes trip down Memory Lane

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Posted: Saturday, June 8, 2019 5:00 am

The Titusville High School Class of 2019 has taken their final bow. At the annual commencement ceremony held Friday, which is the 149th in district history, 131 students finally earned their diplomas at Carter Field, ready to move forward into the world beyond high school.

However, even with their futures ahead of them, the ceremony took on a tone of nostalgia. Many of the featured speakers chose to use their time to look back at all the class had accomplished together as they closed out their time with the Titusville Area School District.

“From the time we were learning basic addition, to our very last high school research paper, our goal was to get to where we stand today,” Salutatorian Gavin Los said in his welcome and invocation. “For us, this moment is the product of a life’s work.”

The class orators for the ceremony, chosen by the Class of 2019 themselves, were Brian Clark and Braden Sprong. Clark offered to take the students on one final trip down memory lane before they moved on.

“Well guys, here we are,” Clark said in the beginning of his speech. “When we were growing up, it was the day that couldn’t come soon enough, and now that it’s finally here, we don’t want it to stop.”

He started with the Early Childhood Learning Center, remembering the nap times that none of the students ever seemed to sleep at. He moved on to the three elementary schools of the district, recalling the track and field days that seemed like the Olympics to the classmates, as well as the many fun field trips. One particular trip stuck out for Clark.

“I think the favorite field trip for me us was probably to Waldameer in fifth grade,” he said. “That was the best because it was when all three schools came together and united the class for the first time since the ECLC. This is where a lot of new friendships were made before going on to the middle school and into the high school.”

By the time the now-graduates reached the middle school, Clark said they felt like “the big dogs of Titusville,” finally moving on to a bell schedule. This all changed when high school came around.

“We look into our high school years, it was night and day from the middle school,” he said. “We realized we were just the pee-wees; It was just a step.”

In high school, Clark said the students had freedom to pursue multiple sports, join several clubs and attend the various dances that the memories of would stick with them through their lives.

“It is so important to appreciate the little things that you have in your life,” he said. “It is the little special things that made school so much fun, and we wouldn’t have had such a good experience without all of our teachers.”

Through these experiences, both the good and the bad, Clark said the classmates were prepared for their post-high school lives.

“We get to leave this place with the skill and knowledge to take on any giant the world puts in our way,” he said.

He closed out his speech telling his fellow graduates that they each had something to contribute to the world, and showed appreciation to them one last time.

“I thank you for the best 14 years of my life so far,” he said, drawing in some laughs. “The only 14 years of my life so far, but whatever.”

Sprong took to the podium, and began speaking about milestones. Historically, he said, milestones were used to mark just what their name implies. Miles on a road or course. However, they now have taken on a different meaning, marking significant moments in a person’s life, or in the case of his speech, moments in the Class of 2019’s time together.

The first of these milestones was the ECLC.

“It is where most of us met,” Sprong said. “It is where we actually became the Class of 2019.”

Time at the ECLC was more idyllic for the students, with Sprong recalling the days of no homework, not tests, not worrying about grade point averages and everyone getting along unconditionally.

Then the next milestone, the move to elementary school, came, and the class was split up. Sprong remembered crying because not all of his friends would end up going to Hydetown Elementary School with him. But, the young learners made new friends and forged an identity in their respective elementary schools that stuck with them.

“Each of the elementary schools has had a lasting effect on us,” he said. “Today, we are still known as the kid who went to Main Street, Pleasantville or Hydetown.”

The next milestone was at the middle school, as the students were exposed to a new world of education. There was no recess, physical education class took place everyday and students had 10 teachers instead of one.

However, Sprong called the friendships made during middle school as among the closest they would have.

“Today, I am still best friends with some of the people I was best friends with in the sixth grade, and those were some of the strongest friendships you can have with someone,” he said. “It’s a brotherhood, or sisterhood.”

While high school was certainly a milestone, Sprong had an additional, secondary marker from when the students went to their final school in the district. That being mat ball. Sprong called the sport an “initiation” by the upperclassmen, just as the members of the class went from being the “kings and queens of middle school to the peasants of high school.”

Sophomore year was itself a milestone, as many of the classmates turned 16 and were able to drive for the first time. With the added benefit of having more input in what classes they attend, Sprong said the students were able to become more free during their second high school year.

As juniors, they faced the stress of standardized tests from the SAT and ACT. However, Sprong said the students finally began to make a difference in the sports they attended, moving up to varsity squads and starting to break records. Plus, many had the added benefit of turning 17 and being able to see an R-rated movie on their own, something Sprong called “convenient.”

Finally came senior year, one of the biggest achievements the class members would reach.

“Being a senior means being a role model,” Sprong said. “We finally climbed back to the top, being the royalty of the high school. Other students follow in our footsteps, whether you notice or not.”

The senior focused on the world of sports as an example of the inspirational effect of seniors. He remembered his cousins playing lacrosse after he talked about loving it so much, and many people asking when he would return to playing soccer after breaking his ankle in February. Sprong said he didn’t think people would notice his absence from the sport.

“But, senior year is more than just being a role model,” he said. “We had to make big kid choices this year.”

The seniors would move on to college, to the military or to their jobs. However, Sprong asked them to take one last look around and realize they had made it as a class.

After the speakers finished their remarks, Titusville High School Assistant Principal Crystal Gates announced the 83 different scholarships earned by the class. Collectively, Gates said the graduates had earned more than $119,555 in scholarship money.

The students who were joining the armed services upon graduation were then recognized. They were Ivy J. Chambers, United States Army; Wyatt P. Duncan, U.S. Marines; Adrian D. Haynes, U.S. Air Force; and Kaitlyn M. Russell, U.S. Navy.

It was then finally time to hand out the diplomas. Each student’s name was announced and the graduates were given the diplomas they had worked so hard for. THS Principal Phil Knapp drew particular attention to Los, as salutatorian, and Valedictorian Emma Sines.

Los had earned a 4.29 cumulative GPA and was on the high honor roll all through high school. He is a member of National Honor Society, and participated in Key Club, Model United Nations, Climate Club and was on the THS golf team. Additionally, he worked as a lifeguard at the high school’s pool and volunteers at St. Titus Church and the Ida Tarbell House. He plans to attend Case Western Reserve University with a major in physics.

Sines earned a 4.34 cumulative GPA, also making it to the high honor roll throughout high school. She is a member of National Honor Society and served as an Ignite mentor, on Key Club and Varsity Club. She played on the THS volleyball and swimming teams, and took part in Student Senate, Leadership Counsel, THS Choir and in the junior and senior class plays. She also works as a lifeguard and volunteers at St. Titus Church, Rotary Club and as an election poll volunteer. She plans to attend West Virginia University and major in pharmacy.

Before Titusville Area School Board President Lynn Cressman formally graduated the classmates, she honored another person whose last year with the district was 2019.

“From the time the Class of 2019 was in pre-K, Karen Jez has served as the superintendent of Titusville Area Schools,” Cressman said. “Her goal has always been to provide you with the best education possible.”

After a rendition of Titusville High School’s Alma Mater by the THS choir, Sines gave the farewell for class, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us,’” she said. “From this moment on, each of us will be pursuing our own new adventures. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you do, but rather how you choose to do it.”

With a playing of “Pomp and Circumstance” by the THS Symphonic Band, the students walked off Carter Field, finally graduates of Titusville High School.

Ray can be reached, by email, at sray@titusvilleherald.com.

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