Griswold High School bids farewell to 157 'Wolverine strong' graduates

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Jun. 24, 2013
Among Griswold High School's 2013 graduates were Emily Slonski and Melanie Leffler.
Among Griswold High School's 2013 graduates were Emily Slonski and Melanie Leffler.

Griswold High School graduated its latest crop of 157 Wolverines on June 22, a sunny and comfortably warm Saturday morning. The ceremony was decorous enough, with the stately march, the obligatory speeches and the standing and sitting in carefully-rehearsed unison. But once the Class of 2013 filed out of the auditorium and fanned out over the front courtyard, graduate Jermaine Frazer-Phillips took matters in hand. “All right, people, on three!” he shouted. And on his signal, the air was filled with flying green and white mortarboards.

Saying that “society has perfected the plan for making adolescent life too easy,” salutatorian Adam Rock told his classmates to “get lost” – in the best possible way. Recalling a family trip in Puerto Rico when the GPS failed and his family ended up unexpectedly on a beautiful beach, he said that getting lost can be the best way to find one’s self. “We can’t fear change, or the act of being spontaneous,” he said.

Valedictorian Tyler Barry said he knew his classmates were flush with the prospect of young-adult freedom, and ready to challenge or defy their former restrictions. He encouraged them to listen to their inner voice of challenge; “in small doses, this voice is a great motivator.” At the same time, he urged them to remember their generation’s byword, “YOLO” – you only live once. “What good is anything if you’re something less than satisfied at the end of it?” he said. “Hell is being visited on your deathbed by the person you wish you were.”

Dr. Mark Frizzell, principal of GHS, spoke of the conundrum of commencement marking the end of one phase of education. What the students have learned at GHS “has prepared you to begin a new life as an adult in an adult world,” he said. “This is the hope and desire of everyone who has educated you, cared for you and continues to support you throughout your adult life. Say goodbye to Griswold High School and say hello to a new world. You will always be Wolverine strong.”

“This community, our school – we are all very proud of you,” said Superintendent Paul Smith. Even so, he said, “In 20 years you will look back on what you have done since high school, not just on getting your diploma today. We’re giving you the power to do anything you can imagine… You guard that power for the rest of your life.”

After they had received their diplomas and turned their mortarboard tassels, and just before marching out into the summer sunshine, the newly-minted grads joined in a Griswold graduation tradition: singing the alma mater, directed by music teacher Raymond Churchill and accompanied by the high school band.

During the ceremony, Dr. John DiIorio, retiring from his post as director of curriculum and instruction after a 45-year career, was presented with a Griswold baseball cap, which promptly replaced the academic cap on his head.

A somber note amid the celebration was a simple ceremony for classmate Steven Szklarz, who was the youngest victim of a December 2010 car accident that also took the lives of three members of last year’s graduating class. When Szklarz’s name was called during the presentation of diplomas, Frizzell placed a white rose on an empty white-draped chair, as he had done last year for each of the other three victims. The entire assembly responded with a standing ovation.


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