High school is history for the Crothersville Class of 2017.
Valedictorian Madison Reynolds said there’s no doubt the 36 members of the class made their mark.
Academically, 12 seniors earned an associate degree from Ivy Tech Community College through the Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative before receiving their high school diploma. That was the highest number of recipients in the five years of the program.
Also, 10 seniors graduated with experience from the C4 program and one with welding experience, and 14 received Academic Honors Diplomas.
Athletically, three members of the class helped the girls basketball team claim the first team sectional title in any sport since the school joined the Indiana High School Athletic Association 103 years ago, and one of them is moving on to play for an NCAA Division I school.
Another senior set school records in cross-country and track and recently became the school’s first female runner to make it to the track and field state finals.
Now, some of the graduates will be the first in their families to go to college.
“It is by no accident, coincidence or stroke of luck that this class has achieved all that it has,” Reynolds said Friday night during the school’s 121st commencement ceremony in the main gymnasium.
“We have made history here at Crothersville doing things with ambition, determination and aspiration,” she said. “From the first day we entered these halls, we tried to make a name for ourselves. I’m proud to say that we have.”
While graduation marks the end of one chapter in life, it also marks the beginning of another, Reynolds said.
“We now have the opportunity to go be who we want and continue the legacy we’ve begun,” she said. “As the saying goes, ‘When one door closes, another opens.’ Every one of us has gained experiences and lessons during our time here that we now get to use moving forward.”
Reynolds encouraged her classmates to take hold of the opportunities laid out before them.
“I’m challenging you to take action and be the good this world needs,” she said. “I do think if you do this, you will continue to make history like you have here because it will be by changing the lives of those around you, no matter what your occupation is.
“I wish the best of luck to all of you as you move on to do bigger and better things and write history on your own,” she said. “Most of all, though, congratulations, guys. We made it, and never has victory felt so sweet.”
Salutatorian Gaby Walters said she experienced a lot of change over the years, including transferring schools four times in elementary school. For most of her life, she said she feared change.
Now, though, she said she realizes change can bring some outstanding possibilities, success and new connections with people who will change her for the better.
“Change brings graduates planning for bright and successful futures,” she said. “It brings up a generation of people ready to make a difference in the world.”
Even though she said her stomach tightens when she thinks about leaving her family and going off to college on her own, Walters said it loosens when she thinks about the possibilities of meeting people who will make her a better version of herself.
“It loosens when I think of the knowledge I will gain and the ideas I will have,” she said. “It loosens because I know that everything before the change is not arbitrary but necessary to build upon.”
As they head their separate ways, Walters encouraged her classmates to view change as a challenge.
“Use the skills you learned and the relationships you made to help you reach your goals and aspirations because change is hard and it is messy, but in the end, you get something gorgeous and unimaginable,” she said.
“We have changed and shaped each other in the many years that few could understand,” she said. “And this small, quaint town will always be here as a place that brings us comfort, a place to call home.”