By Jeff Harrison and
Graduation day finally arrived for Mid-Del high school seniors.
More than 800 students graduated during the district’s commencement ceremonies Saturday at Jim Norick Arena at the State Fairgrounds.
Superintendent Rick Cobb congratulated the students on their accomplishments over the past four years and believes more is on the way. Cobb urged graduates to not only chase personal success but to also look out for others.
“You want to be successful. You want to be happy, but you also want to be fulfilled,” he said. “You get that most of all through service to others. Having a purpose beyond what is immediately in front of you. It’s little things like simple kindness when people around you are struggling. It’s having empathy which is the understanding that others might be dealing with circumstances that you can’t see and don’t affect you but caring anyway.”
He also urged them to find ways to lift people around them.
“Maybe it’s a neighbor, maybe it’s the entire community, or the state or maybe the whole nation,” he said. “Whatever you do, wherever you go from here, your education has prepared you for personal accomplishments but with space to make room for others.”
Carl Albert kicked off the day with the morning graduation.
Valedictorians Hanna Cole, Holly Ford, and Maya Joseph each delivered the commencement address. Each focused on a different point in time – past, present, and future.
Cole spoke first about the past, reminding her fellow graduates of their successes over the past four years. Those accomplishments were largely fueled by personal passion and dedication with support from family, friends and teachers.
“The intricate passion that has deeply consumed each of us is more inspiring than we might think,” she said. “And it’s same passion that will lead us to become assertive yet selfless and vision-filled leaders.”
Ford followed with a speech about the present and the important role it plays in shaping our future. She said people make thousands of decisions every day including many that shape our character and future.
“We decide hard work or complacency, kindness or cruelty, patience or intolerance, the long-term importance of these decisions is what makes the present so valuable,” she said. “And it’s the time when we have the power to control our own destiny.”
She urged her fellow graduates to make decisions today that will positively impact their lives and the lives of others.
“It is an opportunity to pave the way for a better future and to make a positive impact on those around you,” she said.
Joseph shared similar thoughts in her speech about the future. She said the Class of 2023 can help build a positive future by rejecting division and embracing diversity and unity.
“Although we may not be at the height of division, we’re not at peak of unification. As we enter a new stage of life, we have an opportunity to be a generation of change. We, more than any other generation, understand that everyone is different but also know that being different isn’t a bad thing. Our diversity is something to celebrate. Not something to fear.”
Not long after Carl Albert, Del City High School’s commencement ceremony began. Top three students, Jaylon Wiley, Jayda Massillon and Shane Jordan spoke of the past, present and future for the graduating class.
Wiley focused on the memories shared and the results of the past.
“The past four years in particular have been a time of growth, learning and transformation for all of us. We went from teenagers to young adults. We have also made memories, lasting friendships and worked hard to achieve our goals,” said Wiley.
Massillon focused on the accomplishments and reward from those accomplishments in the present.
“This diploma today it’s just a piece of paper telling us that we are graduating, it shows us that the past 12 years of school weren’t for nothing. All the stress, breakdowns, troubling times and even the hardships wasn’t enough to stop us from becoming who we are today,” said Massillon.
Jordan focused on the potential each student has for the future.
“We are the creators of our own fortune and it is up to us to sow the seeds now so we can reap the bounty of success later in life,” said Jordan. “You have to spend each day fighting to achieve your dreams and aspirations.”
The big day concluded with Midwest City’s commencement ceremony in the evening.
Brooklyn Lewis, the school’s top valedictorian delivered the commencement address. She spoke about the roles failure and perseverance play in life. She challenged her fellow graduates to not be discouraged by failure but to dig deep and persevere and learn from it.
“Even when you suffer failure after failure, and all seems bleak, perseverance is a shining light,” she said. “Not only can perseverance be a solution to failure but is the push, the hope, the beacon of light that shows us we can overcome and excel.”