Graduation Day: The Beginning of a New Chapter

Dean of Students, Mr. Brian Pawloski
June 24, 2016
GIRL RISING: “Educate a Girl, Change the World.”
November 9, 2016

Graduation Day: The Beginning of a New Chapter

Salutatorian Fredderica Krehbiel and Valedictorian Malayah Brown

Graduating high school is a stepping-stone to future endeavors. It is an emotional rollercoaster filled with tears, laughter, and joy.  Our senior class of 2016 celebrated this special moment on Saturday, June 25 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Head of School John Ashwood kicked off the event by welcoming  and thanking the crowd for their attendance; he then introduced the Board of Trustees and recognized their dedication to OCS.  He talked about the rewarding aspect of being Head of School.

“People ask me what is the best part of my job, and that is today. I stand here as school leader to let you know the class in front of you has achieved the highest graduation rate in our schools history – 80.4%.”

Salutatorian Fredderica Krehbiel took the podium to share a few words.

“This marks the beginning of our lives. We haven’t done all we can yet, and each of us are unique” she said.

After Krehbiel gave her speech, the founder of Reach to Teach National, Mr. Christopher Scott, took the stage. Scott is a distinguished student leader and a youth motivational speaker from Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from the University of Toledo with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Reach to Teach National is the name of a motivational tour Scott created. He visits inner city high schools to share a motivational message about how he survived his first year of college and provide advice on what it takes to be successful.

“You can be great in this world if you really want to. If you change your mentality, I promise you’ll change your reality,” he said.

Scott also gave our students some advice for their post-high school journeys.

“One of the biggest sacrifices is going to be your cell phone. Put it on silent so you can focus in class,” he said, adding “There may be some people you need to sacrifice in order to be successful. Sometimes those are the people you considered to be your closest friends.”

Following Scott’s speech, Director of Instruction Christian Cornwell presented several awards to our hardworking students. Some awards were the National Honors Society and Award for Educational Excellence, to name a few.  

The climactic moment of this gratifying day came seconds after the awards were presented. Valedictorian Malayah Brown shook the audience with her heartfelt speech. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she choked up, sharing her story of perseverance.

She started with an allegory about a farmer who had a donkey that fell into a well. The farmer decided the donkey was too old, and began to shovel dirt into the well.  To the farmer’s surprise, the donkey shook off each shovel of dirt and took a step up on the growing pile of dirt, until it was able to step out of the well and trot away.

Malayah then transitioned into her personal story of being a lost and troubled 13-year-old girl who was experiencing the hardships of life. Brown overcame many obstacles at such a young age, and eventually found the right path to success.

“Just like the donkey in the parable did, I shook it off and took a step up . . . I aspire to find a career that works to inspire other women to have power over their own lives. I want my own kids to see my achievements and want the same for their lives,” she said.

Graduates, parents, and staff were in tears. Brown created an energy that transpired throughout the room.

Now came the moment everyone was waiting for. Each student was called to the stage for the walk of triumph, as they received their high school diplomas. Many tears were shed and the students cheered with glee as their names were called, while proud parents ran up to the stage to take pictures of their child.

Congratulations to the class of 2016. This marks the end of your youth and the beginning to adulthood. You’ll discover a world full of opportunities. It is an exciting but bumpy ride, and we wish you all the luck in the world!