Students honored at Volunteer Stadium as principal reflects on their unique high school journey
TEMPLETON — The Templeton High School Class of 2023 walked through the Volunteer Stadium and into the stands where they would graduate in front of stands filled with family and friends.
Jessica Lloyd emceed the graduation, which completed her first year as principal at Templeton High School. Not only were the students graduating, but Lloyd recognized three teachers who were also graduating into retirement: Erik Lewis, Michael Carter, and Catherine Kingsbury.
“They have invested much and have had a significant impact on our entire student body. We wish them the best,” said Lloyd of the beloved staff.
Lloyd reflected on the last four years with the students, noting their unique experiences going through distance learning.
“This group of seniors have experienced a unique high school education and an extraordinary amount of change,” said Lloyd, later adding, “Graduates, I have learned so much from you. You inspire me to make this the absolute best high school campus for every student who attends. You inspire me to work hard, stay positive and take risks because that is what I have observed from you this year.”
Four students earned high scholarly honors this year, with Olivia Voos and Elyse Black as the co-salutatorians and Karen Clark and Heer Shinglot as the co-valedictorians.
The first to address her fellow graduates was Voos.
“Each student, whether they’re always in the ag quad or theater department, had the chance to solve mysteries about themselves and their classmates at our time here,” she said. “Templeton High School gave us the resources to piece together interests, friendships, and future plans … the next mystery we have to solve is what’s next.”
Voos was followed by Black, who also sang the national anthem, took to slam poetry to address the graduates that this was their last episode together but encouraged everyone to be curious and not judgmental in their next phase of life.
“This is the series finale,” recited Black. “This is the end of our road. So while this show is over, as the curtains come to close, take with you curiosity and a desire to know more about those around you. I wish this for you the most.”
In Templeton High School tradition, Lloyd introduced the classes to foreign exchange students. Each student exchanges their home flag with an American one to commemorate their time here.
“We greatly value what they have added to our campus and how they have served as a reminder to all of us of a much bigger world, a world beyond our community,” said Lloyd before introducing the five students coming from Japan, Denmark, Italy, Germany, and Hungary as they happily exchanged their flags.
Co-valedictorian Clark focused on the beliefs she developed during her time in high school.
“My hope is that the class of 2023 is always able to put their best selves forward so that future generations that look up to them will also be the best that they can be,” said Clark, who encouraged her classmates to learn about their own beliefs and values.
And last but not least, co-valedictorian Shinglot thanked her parents, who immigrated to America to give their children better opportunities.
She also commented on the value of time, leaving the graduates with her final thoughts, “As we venture forth, let us remember that time is not to be run through or taken for granted. Let us be intentional in our choice seeking opportunities for growth, connection, and self-discovery, and make the changes so we desperately need to see in the world today. Let us make time for the things that truly matter, love, kindness, empathy, and personal fulfillment.”
The short and sweet graduation was not without a reflection of the many memories had between the students and their teachers. Congratulations and good luck on your next phase of life, graduates.
Photos by Matt MacFarlane