A stadium packed with family, friends and other community members didn’t have to hang onto their hats too long before 106 members of the OHS Class of 2014 crossed the raised platform to receive their diplomas on the track in front of the stadium, 1120 S. Ash St., Ottawa.
With another 25 seniors working this week to complete coursework, the class has the potential of reaching 133 graduates this year, Ryan Cobbs, OHS principal, said Monday morning. The class also has the potential of setting the highest graduation rate the school has seen in a long time, Cobbs said, who estimated the final percentage would fall somewhere between 85 and 87 percent, above the school’s goal of 84 percent this year and well on the way to reaching its goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2016. OHS has seen a steady climb in the percentage since it recorded a 73 percent graduation rate in 2009.
Reaching one’s potential was a consistent theme throughout the graduation addresses Sunday.
Cobbs told graduates it was up to each of them to choose their individual paths in life. He urged them to be the best they could be every day.
In quoting one of his OHS teachers, Frankie Hernandez, class president, told his classmates that if they wanted to change something about their lives, they should forge ahead and just do it.
“It’s your life,” Hernandez said. “Go do the great things you are all capable of.”
In urging students to be their best, Cobbs also reminded graduates some of the most successful people are those who look beyond “What’s in it for me?” and get involved in larger projects, causes and initiatives that will make the world a better place.
As class president, Hernandez announced the class’s senior gift would be putting its funds toward establishing an official OHS mascot.
Gabrielle Bowers, who along with Hernandez was selected to give the student address, thanked parents, siblings, community members, teachers and all the school district’s staff — especially the custodian who helped her pick up an entire tray of spilled birthday cupcakes — for their support through the past 12 years.
Bowers received messages from a number of graduates who summed up their thoughts about graduation, she said.
The messages were filled with hope and promise, like this one: “Life is like a book — you always have to turn a page to start a new chapter.”
Bowers equated life to a long hallway with many doors. On Sunday, she said, graduates opened the next door in their journey.
No matter what path students choose, Cobbs said, he is hopeful they will look back fondly upon their time at OHS and be proud of being a Cyclone.
In summing up her assessment of the Class of 2014, Bowers said, “You guys rock.”