The Dyson Baudo Recreation Center at Marietta College was already packed with family, friends, and other well-wishers before the 220 graduating members of Marietta High School's Class of 2013 entered the room Sunday evening.
That class includes 38 honors graduates, according to MHS principal Bill Lee, who also shared a few thoughts with the senior class during the high school's 161st annual commencement exercises.
"I've repeatedly told you how fast this time would go by-we've laughed and cried, but also learned together," he said. "And along the way I've tried to imbed some little snippets of advice, like it's what you've learned after you know it all that counts, and-(here all the grads joined Lee in unison, quoting from one of the principal's favorite mantras)-life is tough, but it's a lot tougher when you're stupid."
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Marietta High School grads Liz Mason and Bill McAtee Jr. exchange a couple of high-fives prior to Sunday’s commencement exercises at the Marietta College Dyson-Baudo Recreation Complex Sunday evening.
The Class of 2013's salutatorian was Michael Reese, who spoke some words of encouragement to his fellow graduates.
"This is our ticket to the next step in life," he said. "Think back on all the experiences we've had, but-more important-think about the people who made those experiences possible."
Reese urged the grads to follow their passions and not to get caught up in the quest for money.
At a glance
Marietta High School Class of 2013
Valedictorian: Rebecca Miller
Salutatorian: Michael Reese
Class motto: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about dancing in the rain."
Class flower: Orchid.
Class colors: Royal blue and heather gray.
"Life is too short to live it between those pieces of green paper," he said. "But you can always make money by doing one thing-being the best at whatever you choose to do."
Valedictorian Rebecca Miller noted the true beginning of Sunday's graduating class was when they started in kindergarten 13 years ago.
"But when we entered high school we began to change," she said. "There was more freedom as we began to make our own decisions-to think for ourselves."
Miller said none of the grads were the same people who entered high school four years ago.
"But the question now is-where do we go from here?" she asked. "None of us knows where we may end up-some will go to college, some into the military, and some directly into the workforce. And life may not always lead us to the places we expect, but often where we end up is the place we need to be."
Among Sunday's 220 grads was Jackie Becker who had mixed feelings about finally leaving high school.
"It's sad to be leaving, but I'm also pretty excited," she said. "It's kind of nerve-wracking."
Becker plans to attend Washington State Community College in the fall.
"After that I want to transfer to Columbus where I plan to serve as a deputy sheriff," she said, adding that she's always looked to a career in law enforcement.
Liz Mason said she's headed north to pursue a degree in music.
"I'll attend the Conservatory of Music at Baldwin Wallace University near Cleveland this fall as a music major," she said. "I'm really excited about it. This is so surreal."
Her friend and fellow grad Bill McAtee, Jr., said he'll probably put off post high school education for a short time.
"I plan to work for a year, then hopefully go to Ohio University to study theatre," he said. "Eventually I hope to make it all the way to Broadway. I love acting, song and dance."
Graduating senior Marissa Berry is headed to college in West Virginia next fall.
"I'm going to Marshall University to study music," she said. "I've been playing with Marietta marching bands for seven years now."
Berry said finally graduating from high school is a relief.
"I'm very glad it's over," she said. "And I plan to spend a lot of time with my family this summer."
Lee's final remarks to the graduating class included a reading of "Desiderata," a work attributed to American poet, writer and attorney Max Ehrmann in 1927:
"Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story ... You are a child of the universe; no less than the trees and the stars, you have the right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."