Fairmont commencement speakers urge the Class of 2014 to make the most of their time


Photo: Sam Barton

The Class of 2014 waits in cap and gown to officially become high school graduates. As they await this milestone, family members and friends crowd into the Nutter Center to see this rite of passage.

On May 22, 2014, the graduating seniors of Fairmont High School learned the importance of time as they took their last steps as high school students in the Nutter Center.

Time was an important theme of the commencement ceremony as family members, friends and teachers flocked to the arena to see a single moment of recognition for 536 students whose four years of hard work, dedication and effort were validated. The speeches by the members of the Class of 2014 emphasized the omnipresence of time, sending these new graduates into the world with a simple sentiment: Time is the same for everyone; it is how we use time that makes us unique.

The commencement ceremony kicked off with words of encouragement from 2013-14 United Student Body President Alex Brandt. Brandt thanked parents, teachers and the Kettering community for the support they offered to the senior class. “Your advice and love has strengthened our resolved to become the young adults we are now,” he said.

Josh Strange struck a chord with his graduating class as he criticized the idea of not having enough time.

“Take a second and think about how many hours yesterday you spent not seizing the day,” he said. Strange told his class plainly that saying you don’t have enough time for something is equivalent to saying you don’t care enough about achieving it.

We can and will seize the moments that others don’t catch. Utilize those hours that most people piddle away every day fiddling with their devices.”

— Josh Strange

Strange also criticized the amount of time that is wasted. He called smart phone apps “a time-wasting tool for the billions of time-wasting people to waste their time,” and he reminded the audience of an era when simple tasks, like getting water for the day, took hours and not seconds.

But Strange  left his class with words of encouragement. “We can and will seize the moments that others don’t catch,” he said. “Utilize those hours that most people piddle away every day fiddling with their devices. Take a step back and realize the true value of your time and you will succeed in your goals.”

The motif of time continued on into the next speech, as Andy Kremer compelled the Class of 2014 to cherish their time. Kremer asked his class to dream big and to never stop reaching for seemingly impossible goals.

“You can never know which moment will be your last,” Kremer said. He called on the 535 faces staring up at him, in their caps and gowns, to appreciate the little things in life and treat every moment as precious.

Taylor Wright’s speech held a similar sentiment, focusing on the importance of taking pride in oneself and reaching for a bright future. She asked the audience to shout their names, drawing from a story of her grandfather who told her to always say her name with pride.

Her speech tied the idea of pride in a name to pride in a school. She expressed her pride to be graduating from Fairmont. “Go far in life, but never forget your Firebird roots,” said Wright.

While time is often wasted, Principal Dan VonHandorf’s recognition of Firebird achievements showed that over the past four years, Fairmont students had used their time wisely.

VonHandorf announced the class Valedictorian, Andy Kremer, and Salutorian, Josh Nickelman. VonHandorf also announced scholarships for hardworking Fairmont students from the Kettering Rotary. He showed that this graduating class of Firebirds included 7 National Merit Scholars (with Andy Kremer as a finalist ), 10 International Baccalaureate Candidates, 8 Calculus III students, 32 Summa Cum Laude Scholars, and 3 students with no days absent all 4 years of high school.

He also recognized students for military service, community service, college credit achievement, Tech Prep participation, national Career Tech awards, media and journalism, and music. VonHandorf proved that Fairmont students had been busily using their time throughout their high school careers to rack up a plethora of impressive accomplishments.

With the speaking done and the recognition given, Fairmont students lined up and waited for their names to be called. They received their Career Passports (their actual diplomas are to be picked up from the Main Office) and prepared to leave the Nutter Center as high school graduates.

The ceremony came to an end with closing words from Brandt. Before leading the turning of the tassels, Brandt led the Class of 2014 in a “selfie,” capturing the moment of graduation, the second in time when 536 students became graduates.