Commencement Exercises

Seniors who make up the St. Clair High School Class of 2012 keep their eyes on the American flag as members of the school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program walk it down the middle aisle during the start of Thursday’s graduation ceremony on the athletic field. In all, 173 students received diplomas.

St. Clair High School’s Class of 2012 valedictorian, Amanda Havin, summed up Thursday night with her last words to her fellow graduates.

“Congratulations, Class of 2012. We made it.”

Havin and 172 other SCHS seniors received their diplomas after completing all the necessary requirements for graduation during a ceremony conducted on the R-XIII school district’s athletic field.

“Everyone in front of me today has worked hard to achieve one goal,” Havin said. “You truly made success your only option. You chose to work hard, and it paid off.

Havin began her speech moments earlier by asking her fellow graduates a question.

“Over the years we’ve been constantly asked one question,” she said. “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

She then talked about change and more specifically about the changes members of the Class of 2012 have undergone since childhood leading up to their graduation day.

And she again addressed the question as her speech came to a close.

“So back to the question. What are you going to be when you grow up?” she said. “Well, you know who you were, and you know who you are now. Who you will be is up to you. So, Class of 2012, be who you want to be, be yourself, and be the change.”

Havin was one of five seniors who graduated summa cum laude, meaning they were in the top 3 percent of the graduating class. The others were salutatorian Samantha Hinson, Alyssa Hinson, Todd Siess and Samantha Dierker.

Graduating magna cum laude — the rest of the top 10 percent academically — were Katie Tauchert, Samantha Selby, Michael Drewel, Chad Ham, Jason Byerly, Nathaniel Barns, Jennifer Thurmond, Blake Womble, Tiffany Sellers, Ashley Fuchs, Elizabeth Walsh, Matthew Sherwood and Dylan Pattillo.

Earning cum laude honors for making up the remaining top 15 percent academically were Oriana Hogan, Nathaniel Bardot, Renee Smith, Kelly Barns, Jacob Calkins, Savannah Scott, Tyler Sumner, Darby Parham, Brittany Sellers and Danielle Krouper.

Samantha Hinson also addressed her classmates and used her love of music as a theme.

“It (music) is there when we need it, there when we need to say what we feel,” she said. “It’s always different, always changing, just like our lives. Life is a song.

“Life is a song, and we are right in the chorus. This is the crescendo of our lives. We are at the high point of this part of our song.

“But our songs aren’t over. Now is the time to choose your melody. What will the song of your life be like?”

She continued.

“No matter how your song goes, know that you control it. You are the composer of your own life song.”

The two student speeches followed a welcome by SCHS Principal Kevin Hillman and words from R-XIII Superintendent Michael Murphy.

“I am excited to be here at my first St. Clair High School graduation,” said Hillman, who was hired as principal last year. “I am also excited to have been blessed to have had this opportunity to work with such a great group of students as this senior class.”

After the student welcome given by Samantha Dierker and the invocation spoken by Kelly Barns, Murphy then briefly spoke.

“I would like to thank the Class of 2012 for providing leadership to the high school and service to our community,” he said. “Graduates, it is time to begin a new journey. I encourage each of you to set goals and strike to overcome the obstacles that may get in your way.”

The SCHS Concert Chorale and band also performed.

The second half of the exercises featured the seniors receiving their diplomas from members of the board of education.

The first diploma was honorary and given to Sandra Banderman, the mother of 17-year-old Corina Wilken, who was killed in a one-vehicle crash in November.

Wilken was a senior at SCHS at the time she died in the accident.

After the diplomas were received, senior class officer Ashley Fuchs led the traditional turning of the tassels.

“As this ceremony comes to a close, there is one last thing we, as St. Clair’s Class of 2012, must do together,” she said. “For some, it is just a moment that ends, but for others it is a steppingstone that wraps up memories together and starts a new stage in our lives.

“At this time, will all the graduates of the Class of 2012 please stand as we turn our tassels to signify our high school graduation.”