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AHS celebrates graduation | SLIDESHOW
ARLINGTON — For the second year in a row, the graduating seniors of Arlington High School were heralded by dark skies and a cold downpour, as the AHS Class of 2012 donned complimentary rain ponchos for their outdoor commencement ceremony in the John C. Larson Stadium on Tuesday, June 12.
Valedictorian Michelle Domanowski described her evolution from a small-town girl who was initially afraid, then impatient to venture into the broader world outside of her familiar hometown. At the same time, she emphasized the respect she gained for Arlington along the way as she discovered that she’d grown roots of her own in the community.
“I was determined to confine Arlington to a place that just happened to be on the road taking me to my dreams,” Domanowski said. “I just wanted to pass through here. But despite my firm resolutions, there were moments when I was caught off guard, and in those moments I accidentally made memories. I accidentally let myself get caught up with inside jokes during lunch and side conversations during class, and when enough of those memories had accumulated in my mind, I realized I had made friends, and not just with other students.”
Domanowski praised her peers for their bravery in moving forward with their lives, which she credited to the same life experiences through which they grew their roots in the community that she admitted that she’s scared to leave behind.
Valedictorian Alvin Abes recalled an assortment of experiences and achievements that he and his peers had shared through four years of high school, contrasting the eagerness they felt as freshmen to move up and move out with the regret that they feel as seniors to be fulfilling those ambitions.
“High school has taken up four years of our teenage lives, roughly one-fourth of the entire time us teenagers have been alive,” Abes said. “This just seemed like an unattainable goal because it seemed like high school began only yesterday, and as cliche as that sounds, it truly did. Four years seems like a grain of sand compared to the time we have left ahead of us, but what we did with that little speck of sand was enormous.”
Valedictorian Kelsey Ghirardo quoted Henry Ward Beecher as she acknowledged her anxiety for the future while asserting her faith that it would all work out. She recalled how she and her peers had already surmounted daunting challenges such as adjusting to the sheer size of the AHS campus as freshmen, and echoed Eleanor Roosevelt’s insistence that “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
“There are our defining moments,” Ghirardo said. “For me, that moment came the day I stood balancing hands-free on an exercise ball in zero period. I suddenly knew what kind of person I wanted to be. We’ve all had those triumphs.”
Ghirardo’s final quote came from Elton Trueblood, who said, “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation,” as she urged her peers to trust in what they’ve learned and what their futures hold.
AHS Principal Brian Beckley noted that the high school experiences that students have told him they remember strongest were those in which they came together on behalf of common causes, with this year’s taping of their submission to the “Lip Dub” video competition serving as the most recent example.
“We are a community,” Beckley said. “We are strong together, but each of you carries your own strengths. Each of you has qualities that no one else has. Each of you has interests that no one else has. You have ideas that are your own. Class of 2012, I ask you to take your talents, your creativity, your work ethic, your ideas, your interests and your intelligence, and share these strengths with the world. Our world needs your involvement.”
Beckley listed a number of avenues through which the graduating seniors have already volunteered and contributed to their community, which he anticipated they would carry on in their adult careers.
“The energy and the heart that drives you to give your time is also evident in the college majors you are committing yourselves to, since seven of you will study pre-med, 12 will go into engineering, 10 into education, three in government, one in pre-law, five in broadcasting, and 35 in medical careers,” Beckley said. “When you give of yourself to others, the world benefits, our community benefits and you benefit.”