by Nathan Warner
Parents, relatives and friends packed the Zimmerman High School gymnasium Wednesday evening to see their 137 students of the class of 2013 cross the finish line of high school and graduate.
Superintendent Mark Bezek rose first to welcome the audience. He began by asking all the veterans in the audience to stand for recognition. Graduating student Edwin Anderson stood also as he prepared to join the armed forces after the night’s conclusion.
“This school has graduated 1,092 students since it was founded,” Bezek said, considering the class before him. Reflecting on the passage of time, Bezek tried to put the class in perspective. “All these students with us tonight were in first grade when Sept. 11 happened,” he said, “and as a few of them told me tonight, we’ve been chasing Osama Bin Laden most of their lives. It’s hard to believe it’s been that many years.”
When asked if they were ready to graduate their children, the parents in the audience roared their “yes!” “OK grads, that doesn’t mean your parents don’t love you anymore,” Bezek smiled, surrendering the podium, “it just means they want to love you from 500 miles away.”
Valedictorian Cassandra Ortberg and student speaker, Sylvia Michels combined their speeches into a cleverly performed skit. “This is the first time Zimmerman High School has ever had two female class speakers,” Michels noted, as she introduced the title of their speech was “Gravity.”
“Life isn’t about focusing on your goals,” she said, “it’s about becoming the person who can accomplish the goals.” Ortberg and Michels removed their robes to reveal costumes beneath. Ortberg wore a sports outfit and Michels wore an artist’s garb. “In order to try and capture the ‘gravity’ of what is happening here, we wanted to share what we’ve accomplished together,” Ortberg said. She rattled off the sport victories and challenges they’d undertook while Michels vied for breath with art and theatrical endeavors, including this year’s Student Art Expo. “We’ve done a lot together and we’re still working on some things. …Like that auditorium that was supposed to be built by now,” they said, turning to give the School Board and faculty a humorous eye while raising chuckles from the audience.
“There are three kinds of people in the world,” Michels told her fellow students, “those who let it happen, those who make it happen and those who wonder what happened. We’ve had all these experiences at this school, but now is the time to go out and make your life happen.” When they concluded, the audience gave them a standing ovation.
“That’s going to be a hard act to follow,” teacher Tom Kish said with a smile, taking the podium, “but I wanted to come up here and tell you to remember that passion and persistence in your lives and work equals possibilities.” He told the students to believe in their dreams, because if they didn’t, then no one else would.
Assistant Principal Jason Savage presented the Class of 2013 and gave them credit for his current hairstyle, running his hands through his thinning, graying hair. With that, School Board Member Anthony Walters accepted the class of 2013 with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Taking that to heart, 137 graduates walked from the world they’d known all their lives into the world of change and possibility called adulthood.