As the 69 members of Oldenburg Academy’s senior class proceeded into the Sisters of St. Francis Chapel, Oldenburg, they were greeted by camera flashes, smiles and a few tears from family and friends.
During the June 2 graduation Mass, members of the class participated as lectors, cantors and gift bearers.
President Sister Therese Gillman tasked the teens with “being Christ to others and letting others be Christ to you .... You have been added to our legacy through your outstanding talents.”
In his homily, the Rev. Greg Friedman, OFM, Cincinnati, said, “You graduates have to find yourselves taking on a mission. You were received with the Franciscan mission and spirit, and your hungers for knowledge, guidance and direction were answered. You have become something here ... and taken on the identity of the one who shows us his abundant love.”
He challenged the students, saying, “As you go out from this place, we hope you will pour yourself out in care, compassion and service for our world.”
In her salutatorian speech, Sarah Gutman pointed out, “We have become a family from all walks of life .... We not only shared our laughter with each other, but also our tears and sorrows .... (and) we have been taught many things,” including dedication, time management and teamwork.
Valedictorians Laurel Kelnhofer and Natalie Pottschmidt gave their speech together and noted, “As we move into the next stage of our lives now, we’re going to see just how much we’ve learned about ourselves and others. We’re going on to bigger places, from NKU to IU to Wisconsin and Creighton University, and it’s time to apply what we’ve learned in the close-knit community of Oldenburg.
“In the words of Dr. Seuss, ‘You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!’ There’s no doubt that we’ll meet challenges as we move on into the rest of our lives, but our background as Oldenburg Twisters will give us the tools to succeed.
“No matter what curveballs life may throw your way, it’s important to never give up, but to keep working toward your goals. If you are forever trying to achieve a dream, it is inevitable that you will reach that dream one day, even if it takes a little while.”
They added, “Some of us have already formed lifelong friendships. Whether it is one week or 16 years, they provide crucial support and encourage us to pursue our goals .... Always remember to make time for the important people in your life and the little things that make life worth living.”
Class President Lucas Wilger led his classmates in the turning of the tassels as they officially became graduates. After leaving the chapel, hats flew as the celebration of the completion of their high school years began.