Class of 2023 graduates


On Friday, members of the Hayes High School Class of 2023 completed their high school journey and left Cornell Stadium as graduates following the district’s commencement ceremony.

The senior class gathered at the stadium Friday evening for the 147th annual commencement exercise. Under the setting sun, the students heard speeches from their classmates and administrators.

“I would like to thank all our family, friends, teachers, and staff for helping us get through these 13 years of school, even when we didn’t think it was possible. We couldn’t have done it without you,” said Student Council President Marissa Thomas at the start of the ceremony. “To the class of 2023; congratulations! We made it!”

Student board member Meg Wolf said graduation seemed far off when they learned as children that they would be the class of 2023.

“The year 2023 felt like it would never happen,” Wolf said to her classmates. “When schools got shut down, all of our hope turned to just going back to normal, and then it was our senior year. Throughout high school, we were influenced and encouraged by our families, teachers, friends, mentors and friends. They believed in us, challenged us, and helped us to grow into the best versions of ourselves.”

Wolf said she’s thankful for the connections and relationships she formed during her time at Hayes.

“The one thing everyone heard before starting high school was that the lessons we learned here would be with us for the rest of our lives, and they were right, but not in the way they probably meant it,” Wolf said. “The best lessons we learned were not necessarily from the classrooms we were in, but were from meeting new people, walking through the halls, joining a club or a team, or just walking into school each day. We saw and met people who weren’t like us. We not only learned how to talk to people but how to listen to them. We learned how to be a community. … That’s honestly the best thing any of us learned because that’s what we’re leaving high school to go do. … We’re entering a community that is new and scary, but it’s nothing we haven’t done before.”

Hayes High School Principal Dr. Ric Stranges said he’s proud of the class for its grit and for overcoming so many challenges during the pandemic.

“You experienced different expectations every single year,” Stranges said. “(But) all was not lost. We have so much to be thankful for. You’ve left a legacy of collective sacrifice for a cause that we have never seen in our lifetimes. … I couldn’t be prouder of you, and you know I am.”

Stranges called attention to a banner on the side of the stadium that was signed by the class four years ago during their freshman year. He added he’s proud of their work to make it to graduation.

“You deserve every bit of it,” Stranges said. “Your four years were not what any of us dreamed for you.”

Stranges praised the group and said the class was a “historic group” and had the most honor students in the school’s history.

“This class is something special,” he said. “We are proud of you and excited to share this victorious moment. You not only survived, but you’ve thrived for the past four years. The world is in good hands with you.”

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

No posts to display