Triad graduates 288 Sunday at high school
By Pat Pratt
As the Triad Class of 2023 ventures into the world they should question everything and always try new things, so that they should never stop growing, NASA employee and Distinguished Alumna Mikayla Kockler said in her keynote address.
“I’m a scientist by trade, so as you go forward in your lives I must challenge you to question everything. And I mean everything,” Kockler said. “Definitely question what you are learning in the moment, but also question things you thought to be true your entire lives.”
On Sunday, 288 Triad High School seniors saw the result of four-years of work come to fruition as they were awarded their diplomas. The ceremony saw a capacity crowd at the athletic stadium, as parents and other family members, friends and supporters turned out to support the graduates.
A 2010 graduate and now a Gateway Payload Operations Specialist for NASA, Kockler opened her address with a nod to the resilience shown by the class in overcoming the many hurdles of the pandemic, which affected much of their secondary education.
“While I may have some relatable high school experiences, I know our high school journeys were not the same,” Kockler said. “You are strong and resilient and you are already doing incredible things. You made it to graduation and you did it all during a global pandemic.”
The ceremony on Sunday evening opened with the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance ” performed by the Triad High School Band under the direction of Kevin Devany. After the class and district faculty were seated, High School Principal Keli Barbour offered some words of welcome, followed by the National Anthem.
The Star Spangled Banner was followed by an address from District Superintendent Dr. Jason Henderson, who said he will likely never know a class as well as he does the Class of 2023. He described them as “talented, resilient, friendly, kind and social,” as he offered some advice for the road ahead.
Henderson framed his message with a statistic that based on advances in medical science, at least 60 people in the Class will live to see the year 2100. He asked them to fast-forward to that date and ponder what advice they might give their younger selves.
“I would bet that the 95-year-old version of you would tell the 18-year-old version of you to cut your social media time down and focus instead on real-life conversation,” Henderson said. “I don’t need to talk to your future self to know that all those photos and videos you post now will be looked at by your future employers in deciding whether or not to give you a job.
“So your future self and your superintendent are telling you to cut out any social media that you don’t want your future bosses or everyone else to see. Take the time instead to hold conversations, real phone calls and actually spend time together.”
President of the Senior Class London Weathers also addressed his fellow classmates, opening with a show of gratitude for the teachers, administrators and faculty who helped “pave the way” for the seniors’ future successes.
Weathers will be attending the University of Iowa, where he will be a drummer for the Hawkeyes, and uses an anecdote from his middle school days to show the potential of communication to obtain your goals. In sixth grade, he decided to join the school band and while his heart was set on percussion, he was required to list three instruments he would play.
“On the first line I write percussion. On the second line I write trumpet and on the third line I wrote oboe,” Weasthers told the audience. “Note, that I didn’t want to play anything but drums, but I had to choose three different instruments.
“Afterwards, I asked my friend Andrew what he wrote for his three instruments. He told me on the first line he wrote ‘percussion,’ and on the second line he wrote ‘percussion,’ and on the third line he wrote ‘percussion.’”
Weathers said his heart sank, thinking he would not be able to play the instrument of his choice.
“Next thing you know the middle school band director Mr. Carter is telling me that he thinks I would be fantastic on oboe,” Weathers said.
After a conversation with his mother who advocated on his behalf and communicated with Carter, who allowed Weathers to take up the drums due to his passion for the instrument.
“She emailed Mr.Carter and told him about my predicament,” Weathers said. “And he told her he could see the disappointment on my face when he gave me the news. It was my mom’s sticking up for me and Mr. Carter’s decision that unbeknownst to me at the time would forever change my life.”
President of the Student Council Benjamin Winslow took to the podium next to deliver his remarks to the class. He touched on the adaptability of legendary basketball star Michael Jordan and told his fellow classmates to always try to step outside of their comfort zone.
“A great example of this is Michael Jordan, who stepped out of his comfort zone when was cut from his high school basketball team and later became one of the greatest players to ever play basketball,” Winslow said. “You see, Jordan changed his game. By analyzing his weakness this led him to become a team player and build more grit on the court.
“Jordan stepped out of his comfort zone and went to heights never thought possible. You can soar to magical heights too.”
Following the remarks, the senior members of the Triad Choir performed “Does the World Say’ under the direction of Linda Remiger. Triad Board of education members then presented the diplomas to the seniors at the ceremony.
After the presentation of diplomas, Barbour recognized the two valedictorians and salutatorian – Elliot Jaeger, Sydney Sobczak and Marc Froidcoeur, respectively.
“This year we have three students who in relation to their weighted GPA and class rank are at the top of their class,” Barbour said. “Out of a class of 288 students, this is quite an accomplishment.”
The ceremony closed with the tossing of mortarboards and a shot of fireworks. The class exited the field to be greeted by flowers, gifts and kudos from the packed house of those in attendance nearby.
Dr. Henderson said statistically 60 students would see the year 2100, not 60%.
Thanks for letting us know. We corrected the article.