Various speakers addressed National Trail High School’s graduating class, Friday, May 23, all to congratulate and recognize the students for their hard work and dedication to education.
Guest speaker U.S. Military Special Forces Officer Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan White, a 1989 National Trail graduate, spoke.
Lieutenant Colonel White, who grew up in West Manchester, has been on U.S. military tours in Korea and Afghanistan.
“I’m still a bit shocked I was asked to speak here,” White said. “It must be due to the fact that all the administrators that used to work here when I was here have retired, because Mr. Turner or Carpenter would never have signed off on this,” he said.
After graduation, LTC White attended the Miami Valley Career Technology Center, where his life-changing moment occurred.
White said a teacher at the MVCTC took his class on a school field trip to Washington D.C.
“To be honest, I was a little confused and lacking direction. Perhaps that feeling might resonate with some of you here today. I was motivated to succeed, but the realization during the trip to D.C. provided me a clear focus and established goals in my life. It helped me understand the importance of setting and focusing on goals, because without clear goals, you’ll never have clear way-points to know where you are going,” White said.
LTC White then attended Wright State University, where he joined ROTC. He graduated from Wright State University and later deployed to the de-militarized zone of South Korea.
“This is when I experienced the second key decision point in my life: deciding to try out for special forces … You must always seize the opportunities in life before you,” he said.
“Get after it. Do something that challenges you to get out of your comfort zone and pursue excellence in everything you do in life, both big and small,” said LTC White.
Kinsey Gibson, student class officer spoke to the graduating class and said, “Education is the foundation for success. Without it, my dreams would remain a distant fantasy … Your future is by and large, yours. It’s shaped by the choices you make right now, so start making good ones … Life is more than facebook posts and selfies.”
Brandi Shephard, salutatorian, will be attending Ithaca College to major in Clinical Health Studies and Physical Therapy and minor in counseling. Shephard said, “The scary and exciting part is, there’s so much more to come after this.”
“No matter what happens, life does not stop for you, or anyone else,” said Shepherd. “There will be plenty of ups, and plenty of downs, but the more important thing I’ve learned, is that you have the power to choose your attitude as a reaction to all the unfortunate situations you may find yourself in … Getting out of your comfort zone can really make you see your full potential and grow as a person … life can be really cool if you let it.”
“In the grand scheme of things, we’re not alive for that long, so do something that you love and are passionate about. Make sure you tell the people in your life that you love them and you care about them, and you appreciate them. Make sure you always take time for yourself and relax,” said Shepherd.
Valedictorian Kate Deaton will be attending the Ohio State University to pursue a degree in Agricultural Science Education, as well become a member of the OSU track and field team.
Deaton said, “Obviously, we’re not finished yet. Using these next couple of years to find out what it is that you want to do is very important … I have to express how proud I am to be coming from the National Trail class of 2014. This year, we have accomplished a lot; not only as a class, but as a school as well.”
Deaton listed accomplishments of the school which included, the National Trail football team qualifying for state playoffs, the FFA team placing in the state semi-finals, canned food drive in partnership with the Ronald McDonald House, and an annual blood drive which collected the most blood in their history.
“I’d like to let you all know, that I’m proud of each and every one of you. Good luck, and God bless you in all of your future endeavors,” Deaton said.
Eighty students graduated from National Trail on Friday.