Friends and community are the things many of the graduates of Brownstown Central High School said they’d miss most after graduation.
“It’s kind of surreal feeling, like it shouldn’t have happened yet,” said Brooke Meyer, one of those who received her diploma on Saturday. “I’m definitely going to miss all my friends.”
“It’s bittersweet,” Cameron Eggersman, another graduate, agreed. “I’m going to miss getting to hang out with my buddies every day and the great community atmosphere here.”
The community of Brownstown is what many of the student speakers claimed is responsible for making them who they are today.
“We have gained friends, and knowledge and the ability to navigate up a hallway filled with people,” said Jami Bryant in her speech on Saturday.
And the community is who showed up to fill the gymnasium as the more than 120 students walked, stood before a member of the school administration, and accepted the symbol that they had completed their high school journey.
The choir sang songs, the band played and students and administration alike spoke expressing memories of the past and hopes for the future.
“It’s hilarious, it’s beautiful, and it’s scary all at the same time. Yes, everything has changed, but that’s a good thing,” Bryant said.
For many, graduation means a changing of community as they attend college, join the military or enter the workforce, but the graduates said they felt the community of Brownstown will still be there for them when they return.
“It felt great seeing my family and friends here,” graduate Ty Maxie said after the commencement ceremony. “They’ve always supported me.”
“For some of us, today will be about celebrating, while others will cry big drops of sadness,” said Luke Cobb who welcomed staff and students to the commencement ceremony.
And while it is a sad moment, marking the passing of an era in the students’ lives, the student speakers expressed hope for the future for what they have yet to achieve.
“When we leave here today, we won’t know what life will throw at us, and we never will, but one thing is certain, and that is the trust others have in us and the trust we have in ourselves…” speaker Makenzie Bennett said in addressing her classmates.
To incoming students who still have time left before they too will take the long walk to receive their diplomas, graduate Lainey Darlage also had a message.
“Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks too much,” she said. “Be yourself.”