COLLINS — A life of integrity will yield success in personal and professional endeavors.
That was the message valedictorian Kaylene Boroski delivered to fellow Western Reserve High School seniors Sunday during their commencement ceremony. The school graduated 109 in a gymnasium filled to capacity.
“Integrity has accomplished astronomical advances in our history,” Boroski said, citing famous people such as Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln.
“If the integrity of just a few men can impact the world in such a profound manner, then how much of an impact can it have on your life,” she said.
Boroski cautioned classmates that integrity is not something that comes automatically or upon a wish. She used a flower analogy to drive home her point.
“It takes effort, time and care, just as a flower needs its seed planted, needs watered, needs sunlight and weeding and pruning,” Boroski said. “We’ve been planted into the soil of our education, and up until now we’ve been cared for, watered and weeded by those around us such as our parents and our teachers.
“But their job is now done,” she continued. “It’s now our turn to choose for ourselves what we’re going to weed out of our flower beds and prune away — things such as lying or laziness or complacency or impulsiveness. These are all disruptive traits to have in our character. Instead we should fertilize with honesty, humility, compassion and knowledge and understanding. Developing these traits will allow a character of integrity to be created.”
Salutatorian Brittany Hartley also addressed fellow classmates in her speech titled “It’s Just High School.”
“There was quite a bit of drama for everyone in high school — quite a bit of gossiping and talking behind people’s backs,” she said. “But there’s also been the good times, whether in the actual classroom or during sports or in choir and band, and other school organizations and clubs, and even things that happened outside of school grounds.”
Hartley summed up her speech by saying she and the other departing seniors “must learn to survive on our own after what seems like so long of being spoiled and almost care-free.”
High School Principal Tom Lehman welcomed the audience and introduced speakers. He also offered graduates some advice, including to stay humble when times are good and to stay positive when times are tough. Most importantly, Lehman said, is to develop and rely on a faith in God.
The ceremony also included these highlights:
Assistant Principal Chris Sheldon announced the top 10 seniors, according to cumulative grade-point averages: Boroski, Hartley, Kevin Stoll, Brandon Cantrill, Nikita Simek, Brett Crumrine, Gary Coleman, Samantha Boyd, Kala Geiss and Brittney Grandy.
Dana Casada and Kayla Stahl each earned a $500 scholarship from the Parents in Education organization. Making the presentations was Wendy Pickett, a school board member and president of the group that sponsors the Renaissance program, which helps students improve their grades.
Nicholas Swan received special recognition and a small gift for finishing high school with four years of perfect attendance.
Choir seniors sang “The Irish Blessing,” and the concert band, including its senior members, performed “Eagle Mountain Overture.”
Eight students earned spots on the school’s wall of fame: Boroski and Hartley for academics, track participants Colleen Nitchman and Tiffany Patrick and wrestler Eric Reer for athletics, and Richard Bolden, Megan Hembree and Kori Roth for FFA.
Lehman praised the girls’ track team for its 10th-place finish in the state meet.
After school board member Cheryl Fannin presented the diplomas, Lehman mused: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”