“I’m up for the challenge. I want to be part of the best,” said the new Willard High School graduate and Veronica’s son. “I’m trying to be part of something bigger. … I’m trying to make my family proud; they’ve been through a lot.”
Nearly 100 Crimson Flashes became alumni Sunday at the 129th annual commencement exercises.
“We are very proud of these young men and women who are graduating today,” Principal Chris Schaaf said.
Including Morales, five members of the class of 2019 will serve their country in the military: Gilberta Ceja (National Guard), Johnathan Cerritos (Marines) and Brittany Kimberlin and Carter Sherman (both U.S. Air Force).
Many Willard graduates are heading to college.
Madison Moneypenny will study zoology at the Mansfield campus of The Ohio State University.
“Ever since I was little I loved animals. … It seemed like the best fit for me,” said the daughter of Mark and Maureen who was “very excited” to begin the next chapter in her life.
Looking back on her time at Willard, Moneypenny will miss seeing her friends on a daily basis.
“It’s going to be hard not seeing them all the time,” she said.
Addisyn Wurm will attend Tiffin University with the hope of becoming a math teacher.
“I’ve been really good at math,” said the daughter of Randy Wurm and Courtney Wurm, who at one point considered studying music education. “Being a band teacher scared me a lot of more than being a math teacher,” she added with a chuckle.
When she moved to Willard her senior year from Seneca East Local Schools, Addisyn Wurm said she felt more accepted in the Willard community and “moving here” was her favorite part of high school. She was a clarinetist in the Willard concert, marching and pep bands and played marimba in indoor percussion ensembles through Vanlue High School and Tiffin.
Classmate Preston Hunter said he will miss “clowning in football” during the Thursday team meals. After graduation, the former cornerback will do air conditioning and heating work for Adams Heating & Cooling.
“It was my time at Pioneer (Career & Technology Center) that got me ready for the work force,” said the son of Judy Kilgore who was in the home remodeling program. “Home remodeling is a very generalized field. HVAC is as well because you learn a little bit of everything.”
Class president Jadon Luna found his niche in the Willard theater program. He said he wasn’t very talkative and found the school day boring before being “cast as a handsome cowboy named Howdy” and then he “fell in love with performing, speaking and being on the stage.”
Luna’s speech Sunday focused on “the two ‘L’ words” — love and laughter.
“Finding something to love in every situation pushes you to think with a more positive outlook,” said the son of Paris and Christine. “Loving family, friends, pets, neighbors and sharing passions is the driving force of any day. … Laughter is just a visual form of optimism making hardships that love can't solve easier to handle.”
Vice president Morgan Adams said she thought people might be joking if they told her she eventually would be addressing her graduating class.
“But over my four years I was pushed and supported enough to find the confidence to do this today,” added the daughter of Michael and Abby.
Adams encouraged her fellow graduates to “go chase your dreams with all that you have,” but also “soak in this very moment and those around you.”
“It is each one of you (who) has helped to make me the person I am today; I can promise that. All of you matter.”