By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
OKLAHOMA CITY – More than 800 high school seniors transformed into high school graduates Saturday during the Mid-Del School District’s commencement ceremonies.
Midwest City, Carl Albert and Del City high schools each held their graduation ceremonies at Jim Norick Arena at the State Fairgrounds.
Rick Cobb, superintendent of Mid-Del Schools, encouraged graduates to keep their shoulders pointed forward and work to create a better tomorrow.
“When it comes to the past, there is nothing wrong with turning your head and looking back. Just don’t get stuck in the path,” he said. “… Looking to the future is the best way of finding hope in this world.”
Cobb shared a famous quote by Theodore Parker and used by Martin Luther King Jr. that, “The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.” Martin Luther King III amended his father’s quote to say, “It bends towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own. We must do some work ourselves.”
Cobb challenged the graduates to help in that pursuit of justice.
“What will you do to help bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice?” Cobb asked “Will you fight for the rights of your fellow humans? Will you find a way to contribute to the cause of environmental justice? Will you keep your community, nation and world safe?”
Midwest City High School was the first to graduate on Saturday.
At their ceremony, Emma Reneau, the school’s top valedictorian, focused on the ways students, faculty and parents worked to uphold traditions during an atypical year.
“Sure, we may have been kept apart or events were canceled, but at the end of the day, we were still able to have competitions, concerts, prom and even the graduation that we’re celebrating here,” she said. “That’s thanks to great efforts of not only our amazing administrators and teachers but also the individual efforts and compromises made by our students and parents.”
She challenged her fellow graduates to continue that resiliency in the next chapter of their lives.
“Humans are not rigid and cold like ice, instead we are more like water,” she said. “Even if we are met with some resistance – so long as there as there is a crack, a small sliver of hope and opportunity – we will break through with continued perseverance and effort. The strength and patience of water is what carves canyons and reduces the greatest of mountains to dust. And that same strength and patience will enable you to reach your goals regardless of what currents and obstacles you must face to reach them.”
But that strength and patience alone will not always be enough.
“Never be afraid to rely on the friends and family around you for supporting guidance as you take your first steps into the bright new future presented to us,” she said.
Jada Hopkins, senior class president, delivered the opening address to students.
For Carl Albert, Elizabeth Allen, Emily Jackson and Xavier Williams delivered the commencement address.
Allen reflected on her time at Carl Albert and many other schools she attended as the child of a military family. She shared her thoughts through a “letter to her future self” which she offered advice.
“You are stronger than you realize,” she said. “Somehow no matter what you’re faced with, no matter what obstacles you have to overcome, including starting life with embarrassing moments even novel pandemics, you will get through them. Life won’t be easy by any means – I promise it will change you –but eventually you will thrive.”
Jackson said the Class of 2021 persevered through challenges and enjoyed the bright spots of this past year.
“That’s the thing about life, it keeps going whether you want it to or not,” she said. “You can’t turn back the clock when things don’t go your way. And you can’t stop it when they do.”
Williams reminded his fellow graduates that “success is a mindset rather than a quality.”
“Success takes a will to come out of your comfort zone and push yourself farther than you think you can go,” he said. “It takes grit, determination and its definition is different for every person.”
Senior Class officers Max Wolfley, president, Hunter Willard, vice president, and Sydney Hawkins, treasurer, also spoke during the ceremony.
Del City’s three-part commencement address was delivered by Kaitlynn Norman, Dylan Ho and Miranda Wasinger with themes of the past, present and future.
Norman focused on the past. She recalled growth they experienced throughout elementary, middle and high school.
“We will leave here and each other but it is not the end,” she said. “All you have to do is learn from the past and learn from it without regret.”
Ho commended his classmates on their perseverance and accomplishments and encouraged them to thank the special people who helped them get where they are today.
“COVID has been devastating to many around the world, but it has opened our eyes to connect to those closest to us and reflect on their importance,” he said.
Wasinger talked about the future. She said while many classmates grew up together, their lives will soon take different paths.
“It’s time to close this chapter of our lives and enter a new one,” she said. “Get that dream job, get that dream home and create a family if you wish. As everyone goes in their own direction, I wish you all happy, successful and healthy lives.”
Julian Perez Johnson was also presented with the Annette Nantois Senior Leadership Scholarship. The $500 scholarship is given to a student who is dedicated in the classroom and in the community.
Members of the Mid-Del School Board presented diplomas to students. Each student also received a commemorative dollar coin from FNB Community Bank.
Each ceremony also included presentation of the colors by their JROTC students and music by the high school choirs. Carl Albert’s band also performed at their commencement ceremony.
Videos of the ceremonies can be viewed on the District’s YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/c/MidDelSchools.