MICHIGAN CITY – Barbara Eason-Watkins, superintendent of Michigan City Area Schools, used six words to describe the class of 2019 on Sunday – bright, spirited, champions, dedicated, creative and unafraid.
“You are shining examples of what it means to be Michigan City Wolves, and you have a very bright future ahead,” she told the nearly 350 graduates on Sunday at the 24th Commencement ceremony of Michigan City High School.
Keeping with her tradition of listing the highlights of each graduating class, Eason-Watkins spent much of her time at the microphone on Sunday describing “just how amazing the class of 2019 is.”
The MCHS class of 2019 had a record number of students graduating with distinction and highest distinction, she said, with 48 students earning a grade-point average of 4.1 or above, adding that 10 of these students graduated with a 4.525 or higher.
Nearly a third of the class of 348 received academic or technical honors diplomas; more than 604 advanced placement classes were completed by the graduating class; and more than $4.1 million in academic scholarships were received, including a National Merit Scholar, a Gates Scholar, 31 21st Century scholars and two Lilly Scholarship finalists.
Eason-Watkins also recognized students who represented MCHS at the regional, state and national levels in robotics, JROTC, environmental science, Japanese Olympiad, art, construction, manufacturing, health, welding, emergency medicine, culinary, swimming, diving, bowling, track and field, vocal and instrumental competitions.
The first graduate to receive her diploma was class president Sydney Starks, who gave a speech to fellow graduates – beginning with “Class of 2019, we made it!”
Whether each student felt the journey to graduation was a long one, or if it happened in the blink of an eye – or maybe a mix of both – Starks said graduation was a time to reflect on the accomplishments and experiences of the last four years.
“Being a freshman was not easy,” she said. “But we had an agenda to prove ourselves and a goal of setting ourselves apart” – something Starks felt her class achieved.
“Many class presidents have said ‘we’re the best,’ but I’m the first one that can say it truthfully,” she said, adding that the class of 2019 had many talented students, brought the community together and dominated class Olympics.
Student council president Julia Miller also addressed the gathering.
Acknowledging the changes and challenges the class of 2019 faced over the past 18 years, Miller also cited significant accomplishments over that time – the decrease in the number of people living in poverty, an increase in the national graduation rate, and the giant panda no longer being considered an endangered species [considered vulnerable but not endangered since 2015].
Hoping to use this progress to inspire the class of 2019 she said, “I know you can do great things. Let’s go out and make them happen.”