Photo by Taj Simmons
After a three-year hiatus that moved the ceremony online and then outdoors, the Talawanda community once again packed Millett Hall to celebrate the graduation of 238 seniors on Thursday.
Senior Amna Jaffery opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and expressed gratitude to the school, her teachers and family.
“I moved to Oxford from Pakistan in September 2020,” Jaffery said. “There were many challenges for me in the beginning, but with the support and help I received from Talawanda High School, I excelled.”
The graduating class was welcomed by Senior Class President John Nelson.
“If you think about it, we’ve spent 72% of our lives inside the walls of Talawanda,” Nelson said. “We are graduating tonight and the percentage will dwindle for many of us, however, we should always remember the friendships and bonds we made while at Talawanda.”
Michelle Miao, Talawanda’s 2022 valedictorian, gave a speech that highlighted the excitement of graduating, while also giving a nod to the nostalgia and comfort that past years provided her.
“Like many of you, I’ve spent the last few months plagued by senioritis. I was impatient for college decisions, for tonight and for summer,” Miao said. “But now, I find myself already starting to miss the safe routine of walking across the rotunda every day, seeing my favorite teachers every class, and meeting up with friends every afternoon.”
Julia Peter, Talawanda’s 2022 salutatorian, reflected on the simple things she learned from the very beginning at Talawanda kindergarten.
“My most important lesson from kindergarten is that sometimes we just need to hold hands,” Peter said. “Sometimes when we’re struggling, the best thing we can do is reach out a hand, and hope someone grabs on.
“And if we see a hand, no matter the person’s opinion, personality, or political beliefs, we need to seize it and clutch it tightly. Because maybe if we keep holding on to each other when we need it we can forge a kinder world.”
Student Body President Oscar Broshear took a moment to appreciate his classmates and Talawanda’s graduation ceremony’s return to Miami’s arena.
“Tonight, we are finally back in Millett Hall,” Broshear said. “I can look upon those in my class and see nothing but diligent and motivated individuals that can all make positive changes in the real world.”
After speeches from Talawanda’s superintendent and president, one by one the graduates walked across the main stage, shook their principal’s hand and received their diplomas.
After returning to their seats, they sang the school’s alma mater.
Finally, the graduates were instructed to move their tassels from the right side of their cap to the left. They launched their caps into the air, and walked off the stage as high school students for the last time.
“Congrats class of 2022,” Senior Class Vice President Eva Motta said. “We made it.”