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Willard grads reflect on high school years

Cary Ashby • Updated Jun 3, 2018 at 10:04 PM

WILLARD —  There was a case of nerves before the 128th annual commencement exercises Sunday at Willard High School.

Courtney Eitle was nervous because she will attend BGSU Firelands in the fall to study criminal justice, a field that has interested her for years. She plans to be at the Huron campus before going to the main Bowling Green State University campus in Toledo. The daughter of Jason Eitle and Janet Farley said she wants to be a police officer “in a bigger city.”

“I’m very interested in helping the community,” added Courtney Eitle, who was one of about 35 Willard seniors who attended Pioneer Career & Technology Center for most of high school.

Britney Lykins, who also attended Pioneer, was nervous Sunday — but for a different reason.

“I hope I don’t fall on stage. I closed for work last night, so I might trip,” said the smiling daughter of Rhonda and Brian who has worked at Domino’s in Willard for the last 20 months.

In the fall, Lykins will attend North Central State College to major in middle childhood education, with an emphasis in science and math.

“I’m going to study education because that’s what I went to Pioneer for,” she said. “Math actually was not my (best) subject, but that’s why I want to teach it. … When students are struggling, you can help them because you’ve been there.”

During graduation, Principal Chris Schaaf announced Jenna Robinson was the valedictorian, Amos Hill was the salutatorian and both students had “perfect 4.0 GPAs.”

The class officers were: President Olivia Lowery, vice president Pressley Buurma, secretary Brianna Velasco, treasurer Gavin Buurma and Robinson was the social chairwoman.

Robinson, who also was one of the class speakers, said it was hard not to smile as she reflected “on some of the best memories we’ve made together.” For those graduates “who are lucky enough to have discovered your lifelong passions, remember to stop and laugh and enjoy the chaos that is happening to you,” she said, while telling her 104 classmates it’s OK if their “why” changes over time.

“The journey has ultimately made us who we are today,” added Robinson, who believes “one of the coolest things about life” is taking advantage of second chances. “Events in high school may have led you to believe you discovered your dreams, but the following years may change that.”

Alicia Saavedra embodied that philosophy in high school. 

She said she was “ready” for graduation to start Sunday, sharing how her time at Pioneer gave her “a boost in my career field.” She is a certified dental assistant, but will study to be a radiology technician at North Central. 

“It’s just something different I want to do,” said the daughter of Margarita Garcia. “I’m kind of all over the place.”

Looking back at her time at Willard, Saavedra said she really enjoyed her two years in the flag corps in the marching band.

“Best decision I made,” she added, noting how she appreciated director Christian Watson and his staff keeping everyone in line. “I love band. They are their own small family.”  

Discussing his time at Willard, Dorian Holida said he will miss sports and basketball the most. He played the post position for four years.

“Eastern basketball camp was a fun time,” said the son of James Holida and Becky Holida. “I feel happy, but sad at the same time because it’s over already. It (high school) went by really fast.”

Dorian Holida is debating on whether to attend the University of Findlay or Eastern Michigan University to major in physical therapy.

“Both have great track teams,” he said. “I like to do hands-on things; I don’t want to be behind a desk.”

William Schwan, who will study mechanical engineering in college, was the second student speaker. He told his classmates there are “so many goodbyes I don’t want to say” and countless memories he won’t be able to remember.

Despite how often he said he hated school or was late because he didn’t want to go, Schwan said he was thankful “because if it weren’t for coming to school with all of you for the last 12 years I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

“I’m thankful I got to experience this part of life with all of you,” he added.

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