During Van Wert's graduation ceremony, students Delaney Eyanson, Kathryn Hauter, and Ryan Chen gave speeches. Since graduations were held virtually this year, The Times Bulletin is publishing the speeches in full.
Delaney Eyanson Speech
To VWHS staff, parents, our ever-supportive community, and the Class of 2020, we finally made it - maybe not on the terms we expected, but on the terms of reality. I thought about discussing our current circumstances, but I think I’d rather point away from them. I have loved my time at Van Wert and wouldn’t change a second of it, so here’s a recap of the past 12 years.
Starting in kindergarten, we were at Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and St. Mary’s elementary schools. Some of us had air conditioning, others didn’t, but regardless, they were some of the best years yet. We had no worries other than who we would sit by at lunch or the amount of time until recess. Then came 5th grade year, the joining of what would become Van Wert’s Class of 2020. Better yet, we were in the brand new elementary building, which was a luxury to us all. Classes were fun, but the playground couldn’t be beat. Middle school seemed like a whole new world, but was really the transition to years we would remember forever.
Then came high school. Everyone told us these four years would fly by, but I don’t think we ever believed it. Four years ago, we were freshmen walking the halls of what seemed like an eternity. The upperclassmen seemed like monsters and trampled over us more than a few times. Sophomore year involved Chemistry, which I think speaks for itself. We learned about the guillotine, World War II, and 5x+3y=20. Junior year was definitely the hardest year, but it was also the year to breathe before the chaos. Senior year, at least for me, has been the year for realization. I really thought I was ready to continue on to the next chapter of my life, but I may be a bit hesitant now. In these four short years, I have failed plenty of times and made a lot of mistakes. But, I have also had many successes and have learned plenty of valuable lessons, which is what is important.
We have spent the majority of our time in school, because that’s what we’re supposed to do, right? We were staying up late to perfect, or maybe even start, our homework for the next day. As if our days weren’t already packed full, we played sports, sang in the choir, played an instrument, joined clubs, and volunteered. We set goals and worked our hardest to achieve them, making many sacrifices along the way, which leads me to my first piece of advice: Be present for the people around you. Your time with them is limited, so don’t waste it. It’s not always easy, but it will be worth it in the end.
While in high school, especially the first couple of years, I was always worried about making a fool of myself, as I know a lot of you can relate to. More often than not, I stayed quiet, waiting for someone else to make the mistakes for me. But, I have come to learn that stuttering through presentations and raising my hand just to say the wrong answer is the only way to learn. So, my second piece of advice is to enjoy failure. Expect it, embrace it, and learn from it. The downfall won’t last forever. Allow failure to be your friend, and I promise you will succeed in ways you never thought possible.
Starting as early as sophomore year, Mr. Koontz was in our classrooms giving us a head start on career plans. We all contemplated our futures, thinking this might make a lot of money, that might be fun, or that might be challenging. I have recently come to the realization that things will always fall into place, no matter how long it takes. So, for my last piece of advice, pursue your passions, and don’t do it unless you absolutely love it. You’re here for a purpose, and you deserve nothing but happiness. Change your major, find a better suiting job, whatever it takes. It’s never too late.
To Van Wert High School Class of 2020, our senior year may not have been the most perfect year of our lives, but I am so thankful to have you all by my side. I have built so many amazing friendships, and I truly wish we could have just one more normal day together. As we have experienced, Life is unpredictable, though, so I challenge you to make the most of your time and to love the people around you with all of your heart. Take risks, believe in yourself, and reach for the stars. You are all capable of changing the world, and I can’t wait to see you do it.
Kathryn Hauter Speech
Class of 2020:
We’re a class that is known for many interesting things such as winning the spirit stick nearly every spirit week and now as the class graduating amongst a pandemic. Due to everything we’ve been through, we’ve probably acquired many class nicknames but the one that has always stuck out to me is the class of perfect vision. The vision reading of 20/20 is held for
those who have perfect sight without assistance.
All my life I thought I had perfect vision. Every test I had taken at the eye doctor, during a sports physical, or the annual school assessment I have passed with flying colors. However, over the last couple of months of my senior year, I have learned that perfect vision means much more than being able to see properly. It means that you’re able to look around at your surroundings and actually notice the people standing there for who they are and what they are capable of being. It means to appreciate and enjoy everything your class has to offer and learn from each other.
In some ways I believe our class is fortunate. That’s right, fortunate. Fortunate due to the distance and hardship that this pandemic has caused. Due to all of this, we’ve been forced to evaluate just how much our teachers, administration, janitorial staff, tech specialists, library, cafeteria workers, classmates, and even our locker neighbors mean to us. During a normal school year our class would have been struggling with a terrible and unrelenting disease named senioritis as we finalize our college, workforce, or military plans .. However, we’ve spent the last month sitting in front of a computer craving to be back in the very building we used to loathe, especially at 7:55 in the morning. All of this makes us fortunate due to the reasoning in the proverb Hindsight is 20/20. This proverb explains how it’s easy to understand something after
it’s already happened, but it’s hard to predict the future.
It’s easy to understand the circumstances that we are under. It’s also easy to understand all the things we’ve missed out on. However, we’re fortunate because we had the opportunity to experience all of this together. The same pain (emphasis), sadness (emphasis), and isolation (emphasis). Together we’ve managed to create wonderful things from these feelings. We all know that if we had the opportunity to have a typical school year, we would take it but we’ve grown closer and more united from this experience than we have ever been before. We’ve had more emails, texts, Skype calls, zoom sessions, letters, and tweets than we probably have our entire high school career. All of this shows how desperate we are to communicate with fellow members of our class and to keep ourselves united. I believe that this experience has strengthened our class beyond what words could ever express and this is something we must pass down to the classes that come after us. They must learn to appreciate and experience as much as they can during their high school time as our class had to learn this lesson far before we wanted to.
Contrary to hindsight is 20/20, I believe I can predict the future. More specifically the future of our class. Our class has overcome many hardships as well as general high school problems. We’ve even made it through a senior year without a Beta convention, prom, awards day, spring sports, and many other traditional activities. On the brighter side, we’ve done some amazing things such as simply making it to graduation day, having students make it to state in athletic competitions, having a top 9 instead of a top 5, and we even got to skip out on state testing! I know that our class will make it through this upsetting and difficult time. We’ll throw our graduation parties in July or August. We’re having our virtual graduation ceremony. We’ll move on into our futures with a better head on our shoulders and a positive attitude. And most importantly we’ll stay connected through our individual journeys in life because we know from the last two months that we mean more to each other than we ever thought. Through all of this we’ve finally learned what the nickname of perfect vision really means. I’ll see you all soon.
Ryan Chen Speech
2020. I can remember being in Kindergarten, hearing about my graduation year for the first time. I remember counting on my fingers and coming to a daunting realization; I wouldn’t finish school until I was three times my age at the time. I can remember my six year old self thinking that was impossible. I had already been alive for so long, how was I supposed to go to school for so much longer. But here we are, twelve years later, coming to the end of our time with Van Wert City Schools. Our journey wasn’t easy. Each day brought us a new challenge, whether it was a test, class scheduling conflicts, or the devastating robbery of the win our float deserved during our freshman spirit week. Just when we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, we were thrown one last curveball. The final quarter of our senior year, the few weeks we had spent our entire student careers building up to, was taken away from us.
Now, some people would choose to look at all the things we’ve missed out on; the sports, prom, and last day of school. These are all understandable things to be upset about, however, sometimes we all need to see things from a different perspective. During our “extended spring break” we’ve had lots of free time. Free time to plan for our future. Free time to fill out extra scholarships. Free time to get that extra sleep we all longed for each and every school day. And free time to spend with the ones we love. Each time we’ve been faced with a problem, there were two different ways to look at it. We could have chosen to find every single way that it had negatively impacted our lives, or, we could have hunted and found the good that lies within the challenge.
It’s easy to look back on your past challenges and see the good, but it’s just as important to do so during your current and future challenges as well. As much as we may hate to admit it, we will continue to face obstacles throughout our lives. It could be difficulty finding a job, trying to make ends meet, or being put under a lot of stress. How we overcome adversity will define our lives. As the great Martin Luther King Jr. put it, “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy.”
Class of 2020, I wish to give you some advice on how to handle your next great challenge. My first piece of advice is a reiteration of what was previously said; be grateful. Go and find the good rather than dwell on the bad. As ancient philosopher Epictetus said, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” My second piece of advice is to take your time. We’re all still young and have plenty of life left to live (for now at least). Every now and then it’s okay to take a step back and just take things in. My third piece of advice is that it’s okay to take things lightly. Chances are that your future self will laugh about today’s problems. Buddha once said, “Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness.” And my final piece of advice is to stay true to yourself. Don’t let your challenges define you, you have to go out and define your challenges.
And so, class of 2020, that’s all I can leave you with for now. I will miss you all dearly, and I cannot thank you enough for all the memories we’ve made together. Our friendships and bonds will truly last a lifetime. There is no group of people I would have rather had by my side for the past twelve years. It’s been an honor and a blessing. Though this may be goodbye for now, I am excited to see what the future holds for each and every one of you. Now, go out there and tackle your next challenge the way that only we know how: with Cougar Pride!
Original article courtesy of Times Bulletin