By Dan Spalding
AKRON – Tippecanoe Valley High School seniors gathered for one final time Sunday, July 26, to celebrate graduation – 132 days since they last sat in classrooms together.
One hundred and sixteen seniors, whose final year was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, celebrated graduation on Sunday night on their football field under a bright, hot July sunset.
In his address, Salutatortian Quintin Allen addressed the fact their year was cut short and the uncertainty that awaits each of them.
“Many of us are unsure if they will attend college. Many of us are unsure if there will be jobs to take afterward. Many of us have no clue what to expect when we walk out of this field tonight. Yet, every day, for the past few months, we’ve been told that this is the new normal and we just need to get used to it,” Allen said.
Allen, who will attend Washington University, scoffed at idea of a “new normal.” He said one’s view of normal is subjective, pointing out that some people like to sing in the shower while others put pepper on their cottage cheese.
“We are going out into the world with little to no understanding of exactly where it is going,” Allen said. “We have a unique opportunity to shape our own normal and to pursue a world we want.”
Valedictorian Kirstyn Yoder, who will be attending Purdue University, told the crowd that she’s thankful to be graduating regardless of the circumstances.
“Each of us has already begun a very different path in life from the moment we were released from normal public education in March and I personally could not be happier,” Yoder said.
“Some of us are in the workforce now, some of us are going to college now. Some of us are even parents now. All of these things present their own perspective challenges,” she said.
All of those circumstances could result in what some view as shortcomings, she said.
“In these hardships will come a new light in your life. Whether you choose to keep yourself in the darkness of a broken bulb or put in a brilliant new bulb is entirely up to you,” she said.
Principal Brandon Kresca also talked of the unique school year as a result of the pandemic, but rounded out his address by reflecting on the advice of Jeff Shriver, a beloved TVHS educator who passed away in the past year.
Kresca reminded students of Shriver’s oft-heard motto:
“Good, better, best. Never let it rest; until your good is better and your better is best.”