SUNBURY — The plan was for the Big Walnut High School Class of 2022 to graduate in the new football stadium. However, like so much in the last four years, those plans changed.
Instead, the ceremony on May 21 was held in the new gymnasium, and not even the weather could dampen the enthusiasm of a full house of friends, family, school staff and students. The gym floor was a bright sea of caps and gowns in the Golden Eagles colors — the young women in yellow, the young men in red. In addition, yellow and red roses were placed in front of the BWHS lectern.
Senior Class Secretary Dillon Cox led everybody in the Pledge of Allegiance. The national anthem and the alma mater were performed by members of the senior choir, who stood on risers behind Cox. They also sang Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” and Miguel’s “Remember Me,” accompanied by bongos and piano.
Dignitaries (the district’s administrators, principals and Board of Education) were introduced by Senior Class Vice President Abigail Danne and Class Treasurer McKenzie Lam. Absent was Superintendent Angela Hamberg, who is resigning at the end of the school year.
“We just need a quick moment and reflect on the journey our seniors have gone through,” said BWHS Principal Andy Jados. “Let’s go back to their freshman year. As with all freshmen, they had no idea what they were doing, and they still went ahead and achieved as well as they could. Sophomore year, feeling a little more confident, they got it now. And just as they start to feel comfortable in the spring, the pandemic hit.”
Jados continued, “Junior year. Now we throw virtual learning for some of them and masks at them. And then senior year, what they’ve waited for, we throw them one more curveball, and in second semester, they get to be freshmen all over again in a brand-new building.
“This group has accomplished more, I believe, than any other class before them in the 72 years — they’ve achieved at a high level, they’ve gone through every obstacle, and they’ve done an amazing job. Let’s hear it for this class. … Let’s whoop it up!”
The audience erupted in loud applause.
Jados said the audience itself had a curveball thrown at them, and holding the 72nd annual ceremony inside was plan B. Still, it was the first graduation to be held at the new building at 713 N. Miller Drive.
A student address was given by Cindy Serna. She used the metaphor of “When life hands us lemons, make lemonade” for coping with COVID-19 and the changing of high schools.
Big Walnut graduates who attended the Delaware Area Career Center; those who will enter the military; and the cum laude students; as well as their families, were recognized.
Ryan Cummins gave the next student address. He congratulated the seniors for the first to graduate from the new building, noting that “not a single year was fully comfortable” due to everything that happened. Despite this, he loved being an Eagle and appreciated his experiences in high school.
“I’m done talking, let’s graduate!” Cummins concluded.
“Now we get to the fun part,” Jados said. Diplomas were then handed out by various teachers and staff to the Big Walnut High School Class of 2022. After nearly 300 graduating seniors received their diplomas, Senior Class President Christopher Lee instructed them to stand again move their tassels from right to left. After doing so, some threw their caps in the air, the class of 2022’s four-year odyssey and final assignment completed.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.