Light rain doesn’t deter Medina grads from celebrating commencement at Vets Park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2023 at 2:11 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman

MEDINA – The Class of 2023 celebrated their commencement on Friday evening at Vets Park. The ceremony was held outside with a sprinkle of rain.

There are 98 members of the Class of 2023. They are shown on the field at the start of the ceremony.

A large American flag in held high by the ladder trucks from the Medina and Shelby Fire Departments. It was at the entrance of Vets Park and provided a striking backdrop for the ceremony.

Senior Class President Tatyana Baity and Gabriel Mark receive their diplomas from Principal Michael Cavanagh, School Board President LuAnn Tierney and school board member Jennifer Buondonno.

Valedictorian Dana Faith De Vera (left) and Salutatorian Lillian Wilson (right) gave speeches to their classmates.

De Vera’s entitled her message, “All of Our Yesterdays.” She thanked the family, teachers and friends for all of their help to the students during their educational journeys.

De Vera said her family moved across the world in 2008, leaving the Philippines. She acknowledged the sacrifice of her parents in seeking a better life for her and her brother, Owen. She is grateful the family moved to Medina.

She said the Covid pandemic posed challenges to students and the school district.

“We never really got to experience high school to the fullest,” De Vera told her classmates. Their ninth grade year was abruptly halted in mid-March and they didn’t return to school in-person until the following September.

In 10th grade, the students were on a hybrid schedule, with some days in school and some out of school with students doing schoolwork remotely on “off” days.

“Then there was eleventh grade, everyone was back in school, but there was still social distancing and masks until the middle of the year,” she said. “After masks were no longer enforced, just imagine the shock of seeing your hallway crush without a mask for the first time. Lastly, senior year, our first and last  ‘normal’ year. Can you believe that? Some of our firsts in high school were also going to be our lasts.”

De Vera offered this advice to her classmates: “Don’t spend your life waiting. Be present in every moment of your life, and may you stay forever young.”

Salutatorian Lillian Wilson entitled her message, “Life Is Like A Movie.” She praised her classmates for completing high school.

“I’ve always been a big movie watcher, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that life is like one long movie,” Wilson said. “You’re the protagonist of your own story, but there will always be antagonists, and struggles you will have to overcome. We’ve all had so many different high school experiences, and along the way, we’ve all had our own successes and failures, with some regrets sprinkled in there, too.”

The graduates face the crowd in the grandstand.

The Daisy Chain is shown in a panoramic view.