Troy graduation proves bittersweet
TROY - All the chairs were filled, except for one.
Onstage at commencement ceremonies for the Troy High School Class of 2010 at Memorial Auditorium Friday in Troy, a chair in the fifth row was vacant where senior Logan Weed would have sat, a red graduation gown draped over it.
Weed, a senior, was a stand-out athlete who was killed in a crash late last year in Columbia Township, and seven students performed a special song, "Smiling Down," in his memory.
The performance by Jordan Brunelle, Devon Franks, Erik Young, Hannah Busch, Katherine Passmore, Jenna Haven, Allyson Hansell received a standing ovation from the crowd.
"Just remember, I'll be right there smiling down on you," Franks sang.
And, out in the hallway, a picture of Weed with a fresh catch in his hands sat beside a bouquet on a table.
According to district maintenance director David Blair, Weed's parents were provided tickets and they did attend the ceremonies.
The day before, the students gathered outside the high school to plant a tree in Weed's memory.
This year's class numbered 130 graduates, with 125 taking part in Friday's ceremony.
Many of them, 91, are going to college while a smaller number, seven, are entering the armed service. Twenty-four are leaping into the workplace.
Christopher Stroup, the valedictorian and winner of the William McCord Memorial Award, which honors academic excellence, said that Friday night marked the end of an era.
"Years of books, plays, dances and sports have all led to this gratifying moment," he said.
"With the support of our parents, our teachers and our friends we made it to this day and to the beginning of a new stage of our lives. Where we go from here and what new frontiers we are meant to discover may remain unseen, but as we step out those doors tonight and stare into the first lights of what is to come and what is to be, always remember tonight's victory. For no matter what tomorrow brings, be it the simplest path or a road wrought with twists and turns, tonight we share an achievement. Class of 2010, congratulations! Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have always imagined."
Jason LeVan, salutatorian, said that "some very significant changes have taken place in our area over the past academic year," noting the increase in traffic that has taken place.
"There are now an overwhelming number of vehicles traveling on what used to be our lonely backcountry roads," he said. "There are big trucks, little trucks, dump trucks, water trucks, frack trucks, service trucks; in fact I've even seen a few white pickup trucks. I doubt that a year ago anyone from this area thought that they would have had to wait for the one red light in Troy to change a half dozen times before they could get through town."
"Actually, we are even being invaded from the sky," he said, referring to the wind farm on Armenia Mountain. "There are tall, white, alien creatures spinning their arms furiously from the top of Armenia Mountain." His description drew some chuckles from the audience.
"Anytime a person experiences a rapid change, such as the one occurring in our area today, there is going to be uncertainty," he said. "Will we be able to absorb the present economic surge, yet maintain and preserve the unique qualities that have formed the foundation for our accomplishments that are being recognized here this evening? Some individuals may say that our community has hit the lottery, because of the economic boom that is occurring, or have we had it all along? We may not have been rich in the form of wealth, but in the strength of our citizens, who give of their time and resources. We should never lose sight of the perseverance and integrity of those who have set us upon this course."
"A multitude of changes are occurring in every phase of our lives," he continued. "Hopefully, these changes will not fragment our pristine landscape or our tight knit community to the point that our proud heritage is compromised in anyway. As our past has shaped the present, surely our present will shape the future. As graduates, we also now share in the burden of responsibility of being a contributing asset to our town, nation, and the world. If we continue to do our homework and gain knowledge, we will be prepared to make good choices. Ideally, the next generation will be able to compliment us on a job well done."
And he told the Class of 2010 a lesson they have surely learned: "Always live life to the fullest and enjoy every minute of it, because as we all know it can be taken away from us at any time."
Leanne Hoover, the Third Honor speaker, asked what the future held for the class members.
"One thing is for sure; our world will continue to change due to the technology that surrounds us," she said. "Six years ago, cell phones did not even work in Troy. Now we have no idea of how we lived without them. We use Facebook to communicate with friends. The Internet has become an essential tool for our daily lives. Our lives revolve around instant communication. Our parents do not know how to do half of what we can do with technology. We teach them how to do things almost every day."
"Our future life is going to continue to transform. The government, the economy, the education system, and the health care system are all in a state of unrest. We have been given the tools to be able to assist in the improving of our society at large."
"I, myself, want to make a positive difference in our future," she said. "My wish for each one of you is that you participate in life to the best of your ability. Figure out who you are and be the best you that you can be."
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.