GRADUATION: Class of 2015 embraces its diversity

Seniors share a few laughs before the ceremony.

A smile stretches across the face of Cherokee Toole as he heads on stage.

The Oberlin High School Class of 2015 takes center stage.

Student council vice president Morgan Smith talks about the dreams of her fellow classmates.

Oberlin High School principal William Baylis congratulates the Class of 2015.

Senior Thomas Protzman receives his diploma from board of education president Ken Stanley.

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

The Class of 2015 tosses hats in the air after the ceremony.

Eighty-three students filled Finney Chapel on Friday for Oberlin High School’s 153rd annual commencement ceremony.

Graduates waved to cheering family members as they took the stage to receive diplomas from board of education president Ken Stanley.

Oberlin High School principal William Baylis reflected on the Class of 2015’s outstanding achievements this year:

• This is the fifth graduating class to have 100 percent college and post-secondary acceptance.

• The students signed letters of intent to 36 different institutions.

• Seven seniors took full International Baccalaureate programs.

• The class has received $1.1 million in scholarships and institutional aid.

“This is a class that understands, values, and embraces its diverse composition and appreciates those characteristics of this great town,” Baylis said.

It is a diverse group of young people who have cared for and helped each other through the years.

“I ask you to remember our strength lies in our differences, not in our similarities,” Baylis said. “Your diversity and embracement of each other, your dreams and aspirations, have been humbling and are lessons to your teachers and administers during the last four years.”

Student council vice president Morgan Smith thanked every teacher, parent, and former superintendent John Schroth for always being there for the graduates and always being ready with smiles.

“I can’t stand up here and say you’ll have nothing but good days for the rest of your life,” she told her classmates. “I’m actually saying the opposite. Adversity is going to punch us in the face when we’re running in a field full of sunflowers on a Saturday.”

When those bad days do arrive, reach out to those Phoenix alumni who are willing to listen and help, Smith said.

“I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but before you is a group of individuals who aspire to be the change they wish to see in the world,” she said. “Go out there and show them what it really means to be an Oberlin High School graduate because you’ve earned it. You’re persistence, resilience, and sense of courage will carry you so far in life.”

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.