The Gettysburg High School Class of 2022 has completed a high school experience continually challenged by Covid-19 restrictions. The many challenges and the perseverance of the students to overcome them were highlighted during their commencement ceremony on Friday evening in the football stadium.
“Every day we are faced with a unique challenge,” said valedictorian Lucas Samuel Oberholtzer-Hess. “And we can learn to use that challenge to become a better version of ourselves. Overcoming them makes this moment that much more impressive and hopefully that much sweeter.”
“This year alone we have faced so many challenges. It was an exceptionally difficult time for us. We have received over half of our high school education trying to learn while trying to stay safe at the same time,” he said.
“We’ve all accomplished something in graduating. We can all be proud of ourselves. We’ll continue to be resilient and grow. Remember that this diploma would mean nothing if it hadn’t taken 13 years of schooling.”
Oberholtzer-Hess thanked the staff and faculty, saying “these adults have been the ones facilitating our growth through hard times. They always seem to put our needs and our growth first.”
High School Principal Jeremy Lusk encouraged students to think every day about “What matters most.” He thanked the board of school directors, school district Superintendent Jason Perrin and Assistant Superintendent Christine Lay as well as the rest of the staff, saying “education remains the most important tool to both empower and improve.
Lusk said teachers are more and more deserving of praise every year. “You continue to focus on what matters most: these kids. You continue to be a source of motivation, of strength, of compassion, of encouragement, of understanding.”
Lusk stressed the Importance of being present, being involved in the community, and being kind.
“Remember how special you are,” he said, noting the students had experienced Covid, closures, remote learning, sickness, distance, fatigue, renovations, and even death. “But in you we saw cooperation, GRIT, resilience, growth, spirit, giving, and light.”
Lusk said students with scholastic honors would receive medals for their achievements, including cum Laude (top 10 percent), magna cum laude (top 5 percent) and summa cum laude (top 2 percent).
In what has become an annual tradition, Lusk read a poem he had written for the class:
Warriors, Get Up!
Because you felt so compelled from an early age, Get up!
Because it was a sunny day (or even if is not), Get up!
Because someone you trust told you to, Get up!
Because opportunity is knocking, Get up!
Because you cannot seize the day unless you try, Get up!
Because someone you love is waiting for you, Get up!
Because your mind, body, and soul will benefit, Get up!
Because there’s something new to learn somewhere else, Get up!
Because the world will not spend time feeling sorry for you, Get up!
Because someone else needs you, Get up!
Because you just might need a new perspective, Get up!
Because challenges lead to growth and obstacles are there to overcome, Get up!
Because there is a lot to be thankful for, Get up!
Because no one but you can keep you down, Get up!
Because justice doesn’t happen idly, Get up!
Because there are places to explore, Get up!
Because your passions are calling, Get up!
Because you can make the world better if you choose to, Get up!
Because you’ve trained for the moment, Get up!
Because in the end you’re worth it, Get up!
Because you’re surrounded by supporters, Get up!
Because the stage of life is waiting for you to walk, Get up!