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Oakland Mills High School 2018 Commencement Ceremony

Merriweather Post Pavilion | May 25, 2018 | 11:00 AM

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Transcript

Note: This live transcription of the commencement ceremony was provided by Recapd.

[APPLAUSE]

This time, please stand for the presentation of colors and the singing of our National Anthem.

♪ Oh, say, can you see by the dawn’s early light What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars thro’ the perilous fight O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets’ red glare the bombs bursting in air Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? ♪♪

[APPLAUSE]

You may be seated. Good morning. Parents, families, friends, teachers, special guest, everyone in between, and of course, fellow graduates. We welcome you to the morning on which we will be celebrating the accomplishments of the Class of 2018. Now, a little bit about us. I was born and raised in Columbia, Maryland. I have never moved my entire life. I am graduating today with kids I have been going to school with cents preschool.

And I was born in Ethiopia and moved six times starting with Minnesota to the unpredictable weather of Columbia, Maryland. Today, I’m graduating with people who gave me some of the moments I will cherish long after I’m gone.

Oakland Mills gave me a way to continue my passions started at a young age in Howard County like dance, choir, and community service. It also gave me an outlet to try new things I have never done before like being on the varsity cheer team for four years or leading the student-led walkout.

Oakland Mills gave me the opportunity and encouragement I needed to get more involved, whether that be through student government or playing three years on the varsity tennis team, I found a place where I could do all the things I always wanted to do. And of course, I cannot forget all of the friends I made like Isabel through participating in these various activities.

Thanks. This is what Oakland Mills is all about. A place where people from all walks of life can come together and be united. We have been through it all.

We have had a few fires.

understatement.

we have raised our voices.

And we have banded together in the hopes of making change.

And we have had numerous accomplishments along the way. Our boys basketball team went 18-24 and had a nine-game winning streak this year.

Our empowering women’s basketball team made it all the way to the semifinals.

Then we have our amazing track team including Cameron who holds the school record for the one-hundred meter.

Our inspiring choir made it all the way to state and had the honor of singing in the national Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Our accomplishments would not have been possible without the people that supported us along the way.

We are beyond lucky to go to a school where each staff member can have a personal connection with each and every one of us as individuals. We want to say thank you to all of you who have dealt with our antics for these past four years.

Now that we are here experiencing the day we have been talking about since the moment we walked through those orange stores, it is – orange doors, it is time to say goodbye to our high school career.

It is bittersweet. There are parts of me that want to run out of here as fast as possible and never turn back, but there are also parts of me that want to stay. Oakland Mills has become a home for me. I know many of you can say the same thing.

For me, Oakland Mills Class of 2018 showed me what it looks like when a group comes together with a passionate purpose to achieve a common goal. I saw this repeatedly at the football games where we cheered for our team and friends. I saw this at the pep rallies where we unapologetically let everyone else know who we were. And I saw this when we tirelessly rallied together to get first place. Cracks the moments we have shared –

The moments we shared illustrated hour drive.

Today, as each of us walk across the stage with our diplomas, let us not forget this tremendous drive because this makes us a special group.

Class, fellow graduates, let us pursue our dreams and prove we are not a generation stuck in the clouds for as a wise men name Dr. Seuss once said, you’re off to great places. Today is your day.

Your mountain is waiting.

So get on your way. [APPLAUSE]

♪ as we rolled down this unfamiliar runoad And though it is stringing us along, just know you’re not alone. You can always call this place your home. Settle down. It will all be clear. Don’t pay no mind to the demons that fill you with fear. This world might drag you down. If you get lost, you can always be found. You can always call this place your home. Oh oh oh ohhh. Oh oh oh ohhh. Oh oh oh ohh. Settle down, it will all be clear. Don’t pay no mind to the demons. They fill you with fear. The trouble it might drag you down. If you get lost, you can always be found. Just know you are not alone cause you can always call this place your home. Oh oh oh oh ohhh. Oh oh oh oh ohhh. Oh oh oh oh ohhh. Just know you’re not alone. You can always call this place your home. You can always call this place your home. You can always call om your home ♪ ♪

[cheers and applause]

Good morning,. Family, friends, faculty, special guests, and the class of 2018. It is my pleasure to introduce some special guests today. As a call your name, please stand and be recognized. Please hold your applause until all the guests have been introduced. Allen Kimmelman since his regrets that he cannot be with us as his daughter is getting married. The chairman of Howard County Board of Education. Sandra French, Howard County Board of Education. Interim superintendent, Howard County Public School System. Ms. Elaine Reid, substitute principal of Oakland Mills High School. Principal, Homewood school. Maryland State Senator, District 13. Maryland delegate District 12. The Honorable Shane Pendergrass, delegate District 13. Freight Turner, Roman state delegate, District 13. Dr. ball, District 2. The Honorable Jim to Raza – jen teraza. William Barnes, chief academic officer. Chief school management. The chief business and technology officer. The chief mutation and can – communication and community workforce. Dr. Kramer, community superintendent. Jason McCoy, community response officer. Performance, equity, and community response officer. Ron morin, community response officer. Larry cohen, former Oakland Mills teacher and County administrator. Thank you for showing your support for the Oakland Mills graduating class of 2018.

[APPLAUSE]

I would like to recognize our school administrators and staff. This Betsy Coe, assistant princi pal. Assistant principal. Brian Wallace, assistant principal. Arnetta Young, assistant principal. I would also like to acknowledge our school counselors. This Douglas. Miss hart. Mr. Leo Quinn. Mrs. Donna eitherman. I would like to recognize our class sponsors. Missed Nicole Kaufmann could not be with us today but since her love and congratulations to the Class of 2018. Last but not least, Miss Amy Connor. Thank you for everything you have done for us.

All right. To the people that raised me, a message from all of us. First of all, I would like to thank you. I feel you rarely get the recognition you deserve in moments like these that are as monumental for you as much as for us. I know and have partially been responsible for you being put through hell and backed the last 18 years. In elementary school, some of us decided to play an instrument because everybody else was doing it. You sat through those excruciating “practices” that consisted of out of tune screeching. You supported our attempts to be a musician as well as our decision to quit and stick with singing in the shower. In middle school when athletic practices became more rigorous and routine, U-Haul this back-and-forth to wherever we needed to be. You would sit on the sidelines and cheer us on even if we only knew how to run around in circles on the field. You rock the soccer mom van carrying half of the team after a tough loss. In high school, you let us practice parallel parking in a new car. I could tell you were nervous. Sweat was dripping down your face and your hands were gripping the side handles. A sigh of relief filled the air when you witnessed us park perfectly on our test, earning us and you newfound freedom. You work hard to provide for us, for our future. You got us to school and we overslept, and on special occasions writing a note saying our excuse was a doctors appointment. He went behind the scenes and try to make our lives better regardless of whatever challenges we faced at home. For some, this graduation is not your first rodeo. But your babies are growing up fast and we will forever be grateful for everything you have done and will continue to do for us. This is not only for my parents but for the guardians, siblings, relatives, best friends, and anyone sitting here. You are part of this family. Here is to us. You need to be given the credit you deserve. This is our day, but let’s celebrate the life you have given us and the accomplishments that let us here on our regulation day. Sincerely years – on our Graduation Day. Sincerely yours, the Class of 2018.

[APPLAUSE]

Every time I am around the next speaker, I hear music. I did not think it was possible to find somebody with such eclectic music tastes. When she writes, it is passionate and eloquent. When she delivers it, you’re in for a treat. First, let me highlight some of her achievements. I remember reading a small excerpt she wrote for the “champions of courage” contest we all had to participate in for 11th grade English. She chose to write about her music teacher she thought impacted her as much as Dr. Martin Luther King. After reading her words, I told her she would win. She did not believe me because she is so incredibly humble. When she came home holding the winning certificate, I knew she would be going places. She is a strong, independent, quirky woman who has a gift for telling stories through the stroke of her pen. An advanced composition class, we got closer and closer as a got to know her through her writing. I could see how much soul she put into her work. She has an aspect many writers strive to have, the ability to make their audience emotional through the message she conveys. From that moment on, I knew she would be my motivating force for writing. Even through the emotional highs and lows that high school brought us, she kept everything moving. She has inspired through her words. She saying her heart out as a member of the chamber choir. She spoke freely as a leader of the Black student Union. She represented the Class of 2018 through student government. She is not afraid to express whatever art form she chooses. Regardless of the different paths we will take, I know she is someone we can rely on to give us something we will never forget. Please give a warm welcome to my girl, Sophia Lloyd.

[APPLAUSE]

When I was younger, my mom talked about the world like I was not living in it. Like the trees were made of plastic and the wind was just a simulation. For some reason, every time I walked outside, I was emerged in some kind of protective shield completely removed from everything around me. It was always, “in the real world, this is what happens. In my little mind, I thought of the real world as a far-off, magical land where things were different. My mom talked about it like they were fire-breathing dragons, mythical potions, things I could never touch. In reality, it was paying for things against her will, having too many responsibilities, and trying to build credit. I have been climbing a ladder in the back of my mind to this very point. And I am so far from the ground and yet so much farther from the top. The future is changing to the now. Those big school assemblies where you could barely keep your eyes open with those important adults in fancy clothing chanting “you are the future” actually mean something now. They were right. We all have some kind of yearning, passion, hope, or dream festering and growing within us since we were young. We changed it a million times. We struggled to put our dreams into words – or maybe you are one of the few people who know exactly what you’re going to do step-by-step. Either way, Oakland Mills high school has prepared us for the future and made us into products of great value, contrary to popular belief. We all know the thoughts that run through people’s minds when we say Oakland Mills. The reputation in Howard County is not a favorite as other schools. That is what makes us incredible. The world tends to shy away from things that are different. We are so different from any other community. We have learned amongst and from a diverse group of inspiring and talented people. We have blended together to make one big melting pot of inclusion and acceptance. We have an energy and light that burns bright within us that we have been immersed in. The power and perseverance of our school was built to house such different, unique, and brilliant souls. It is our home. Many people confuse endings and beginnings when truly endings are just an open door to something magnificent and new. Life has transformed into a vast blue of uncharted waters. And if you are scared but you are so excited – and if you are anything like me, you are scared but excited. There are so many places to explore, jobs to have an lose, interests to discover, people to meet, and dreams to achieve. High school will soon become nostalgia, a warm feeling in the pit of your belly. The drives with your friends with the music lasting, trips to the mall and every restaurant in Maryland, pep rallies, games, crazy things you did, school field trips, your favorite class, lunch periods, the way your heart feels when you walk into Oakland Mills will change completely. And yet, these years are not even close to the best years of your life. Those are only a few steps away now. I hope deeply in my soul each and every person knows that our paths are perfectly paved, potholes included. Every choice, action, mistake, an accomplishment will lead us to wherever we are meant to go. So no matter what, Chase that passion. Do the thing you love even if there is no money in it or you will not find a job or whatever people tell you to make you stop. Do not stop, not for anyone or anything. Run so fast toward it that you are out of breath. When you are grab it, hold it tight and never let it go. I know how heavy your heart is. This emotion I cannot seem to articulate. That is the fuel that will shoot you up the ladder to where you want to be. Passion leads you to your purpose and gives you power to help people. Spread love to others throughout your life the way Oakland Mills High School has taught you to. Take this diploma and use it as your nonrefundable, one-way ticket to that terrifying and magical place called “the real world.” Congratulations, guys.

[APPLAUSE]

Good Morning. It is my honor to be speaking here today. In 2015, miss Elaine Reid retired after 30 years in education. She enjoyed her retirement with her kids and grandkids. Much like a superhero, when she heard our cry for help, she was quickly on her way to save us. When an entire school is built on three ideals, it may be hard to find someone to fit that mold. She was ready to take on the responsibility to lead Oakland Mills High School with enthusiasm in respect to the entire community. Growing up, she worked as hard as she could to succeed in life. Things were not simply handed to her. The words “humble beginning” could not even begin to describe what this strong woman had to overcome in life. She made it past her initial struggles and graduated from Queen’s closet – College. She obtained her Masters and administrators certificate from Johns Hopkins. Being the strong-willed and positive woman she is today, her most important leaf is having meaningful relationship – belief is having meaningful relationships. When anyone comes to her with a problem, she remains positive. This comes from her logical mind. She has a history of teaching math. Her goal as administrator is understanding kids and adults to be a teacher of teachers. OM was a place she could not stay away from long. The sense of community could only be found here and something she had longed for since attending a big high school. Her niche of drama and theater made her stand out all those years ago and was brought out during pep rallies. Ms. Elaine Reid only wants the best for us, having the same wish for us as her own kin. She wants us to follow our heart and passion and not let anyone tell us kno – tell us no. It is my pleasure to introduce Oakland Mills High School substitute principal, Ms. Elaine Reid.

[APPLAUSE]

The granny glasses. Welcome, parents, honored guests, family members, and especially the graduating class of 2018 – because we are here to honor you.

[APPLAUSE]

I remember the day you walk through the doors of Oakland Mills High School. Yes, I was there. You were bright eyed and nervous leaving the place where you were leaders of the school to step into the position of newbies. Bottom of the totem pole looking up to the seniors, wanting to be them. This year, you were the seniors. You are here because you earned it. It was a hard road from there to here. This journey demanded perseverance and hard work. Whatever the obstacles you encountered along the road to graduation, you overcame them. And I am so very proud of each and every one of you. Cherish and hold on to that feeling that you have today because it is this feeling of accomplishment that will help fuel your future successes. But you have not traveled this road alone. Behind every graduate is a cadre of people who cheered you on, helped guide you in the right direction, and celebrated your successes along the way. And they will continue to do so in the next, and in the next, and in the next milestone. It never ends. Graduates, yo u owe a debt of gratitude to those who have cheered and supported you on your journey to this moment. I want you to stand, turn around, and acknowledge your cheerleaders with a heartfelt, thankful round of applause.

[APPLAUSE]

You have mastered your class work and you have a vision of what lies ahead. But I truly feel the most valuable life lessons were not learned in the classroom. Good sportsmanship does not come from your textbook. It is learned by experience, from your coaches, fellow players, and friends, who teach you it is just as important to be a good loser as a good winner. We received the 24th annual sportsmanship club cup from the Howard County Public School System which exemplifies fair and generous treatment of others in sports. That is pretty amazing.

[APPLAUSE]

From your teachers who encourage you to reach beyond your comfort zone and not be afraid to make mistakes, mistakes are an important learning tool. What you can be sure of is that you will change, you will make mistakes, and you will grow up. Just accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue. Then turn that mess into a message so others may benefit and learn from it as well. Think of the visionaries who were unaware of how close they were to success when they gave up. As an inventor, Thomas Edison made many attempts at inventing the lightbulb. When responding to a question about the immense number of failures he had, Edison replied, “I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” You persevere until you find that one way that works. What else have you learned? Empathy for others. #neveragain. And learning how to express it in a safe, orderly fashion. When your beliefs seem contrary to the status quo. And to that I say, become a joyful warrior. Fight for rather than against. Fight for what benefits all of mankind, humankind, sorry. The Internet is just one example of this. The world is changing. And it is hard to keep pace with all of the changes. Choose your words carefully because words are more powerful than the hardest punch and hurt more deeply than any physical wound. What you say about others says a lot about yourself. I am looking into the faces of the future of this country, and I have confidence in your ability. I want you to find the courage to take those first steps toward your dream, even if you cannot see the path ahead. You carve out that path. During your spring musical, Tarzan said, have you ever met a family that is not real? In our changing world, families take on different definitions. We are constantly – thanks. I am sorry.

[APPLAUSE]

We are constantly evolving. But you can’t – sorry. We are constantly evolving, but you can’t lose the rich history of your past. They do take care of me. Everyone has a story. Ask your questions about their history. Record them in your mind and on camera. I remember when my father used to say, he would start a sentence with, “when I was a kid.” Immediately, I would be like. When I was a kid, ice cream was a nickel. Now it is $1. I said to my kids, when I was a kid, I remember when ice cream was $1. And now it is $4.75 – and it is not even ice cream. It is like frozen yogurt. What is that? You are going to say, when I was a kid, I remember when frozen rotor was only $4.79. And now it is 1286 cents per cone. Relish those moments because you will be part of discussions like that. What would you do if each morning, your bank credited your account with $86,400 to be spent that day with no balance carried from day to day. What would you do? How would you spend it? You do have such a bank. Every morning that you wake up, you get a credit of 86,400 seconds. Every night, it disappears. You cannot store it or borrow it. You can only use it. You can invest it, so do so wisely. You can invest it in people. You can invest it in an education. You can invest it in helping the less fortunate because the returns on your investment are often intangible but life-changing. There is that intrinsic satisfaction you get by helping others. The founder of Columbia said the purpose of any civilization is to grow better people. Have that in mind as you use your deposits. As a class, you have heart and you are smart. We have many students attending colleges and universities, community colleges, and trade schools too numerous to list across our country, as well as Japan and England. I am also proud of our graduates who are going directly into the workforce to pursue their careers. You are a necessary part of what strengthens the fabric of our nation. The Class of 2018 has been awarded over $4,200,000 in scholarship money.

[APPLAUSE]

Yeah. We have four students committed from the national merit scholarship program, 13 students who earned the state of Maryland merit award, top 5% of class. We have two Seniors graduating with an unweighted 4.0 G.P.A.

[APPLAUSE]

We have two students who earned a perfect score on the math portion of the SAT’s.

[APPLAUSE]

We have 26 students recognized by the College Board as advanced placement scholars for taking at least three or more A.P. tests earning a score of 3.0 or higher. I especially want to thank and extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to our five young men and women who are choosing to enter our military in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.

[APPLAUSE]

To protect our in alienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Will they stand, please?

[APPLAUSE]

You may not be aware of just how much we have in common. Let’s start with the most obvious. We are both seniors. But I get the discount. Parents, I am a prime example of the fact that they will always return home. But now it is time to leave. We are both embarking on a time of our life that is very scary because it means change. We will both the leaving a place we call home – we will both be leaving a place we call home. There is comfort returning to the place we have grown socially and intellectually. I’m a prime example that you are never too old to learn. I have learned from you that although we may have to send it upon – descended upon Oakland Mills High School from different places, we all want the same things. Asking students what makes Oakland Mills, Oakland Mills, there are several common responses such as – community, school spirit, sports, teachers, everyone is valued. But the overwhelming number one answer is diversity. Learning from friends with from backgrounds and cultures. We all come with a story. Think about it. Diversity is the one thing we all have in common. Just think. Next year when we returned to Oakland Mills High School, we will have to sign in and get a visitor’s Pass. Just like me, I hope you return with fond memories that bring a smile to your face, warmth to your heart, they tear in your eye. I hope that you not only make a living but you make a life. I hope that you not only make a life, but you make a difference. I wish for you all that you wish for yourself and more. Stay safe, healthy, and remember to have fun along the way.

[APPLAUSE]

Mrs. French, as substitute principal of Oakland Mills High School, I hereby certify the graduates sitting before you have all met the requirements for graduation set forth by the Howard County Public School System and the state Department of Education. They are eligible to receive a Maryland high school diploma certificate of completion, certificate of attendance, or certificate of achievement.

[APPLAUSE]

Dr. Mortimer Neufville – Dr. Mortirano?

[APPLAUSE]

Good morning, everyone. Good morning, everyone! I know you can do better than that. Great to see everyone. I wanted you to see my bright orange socks as I want to start by saying to you, the Class of 2018, you are welcome because I am the guy who makes the decisions to close schools for increment weather. And you are very welcome this year because you that seven days you don’t have to make up. And even got a Wednesday in there as well, so you are welcome. To the entire Oakland Mills community, it is great to see you. I want to start by saying all of you look marvelous. Symbolically, you have been placed in the center of the arena. Recognize the support for you today. With you symbolically in the middle of this arena because we care for you. We love you , and we are so proud of you. Your classmate said Hassan gives you the power to help people. Stand up, please. Acknowledge her for that. Passion gives you the power to help people. I only have a simple message today. As you take your brilliant gifts with you and as you leave this arena, I asked for a major commitment. That you will take your passion to help others, to help the lost and the forgotten. Always reach out your hand to help others and be warriors of kindness, care, and compassion. And wherever you go, plant a seed of care. Always leave a seed of care wherever you go. And recognize that in a world that has a lot of hate and challenges, you are the ones that will change that. And always recognize that love will annihilate hate. I want you to carry love in your heart everywhere you go. Young people, you make me so proud. I cannot wait to give you your diplomas. I am so excited. . I’m going to get back to my chair so we can get on with the diploma giving. Thank you and I am so proud of you.

[APPLAUSE]

How does it feel to be first? Today, graduating, you are the first of 12. Right? Did not think of that, huh? On behalf of the board of education, congratulations to the Oakland Mills High School Class of 2018. Is seems like only yesterday to your parents, but it was in 2005 that Howard County’s Class of 2018 began. Perhaps you were among them when 2641 students, little guys, entered kindergarten. As you grew in size, you grew in numbers. Another 1476 students joined you. A 56% increase. This year, about 4117 seniors will walk down this stage to receive their diplomas and certificates. This week, you will be receiving many graduation gifts from family and friends. But Howard County citizens have gifted you all along great schools like Oakland Mills don’t just happen. They are created and sustained through the combined efforts of talented educators, engaged students like you, involved families, and a community that not only values education but also demonstrates that commitment by providing the necessary resources. Between 2005 and today, $169,481 was invested in each one of you for your educational success. This is a wonderful tradition of our democracy, that American citizens with and without children support a free and public education for all children. Well, Oakland Mills graduates, you have used this gift wisely. While you managed to have fun along the way, you worked very hard for 13 years to successfully complete your public school career. That has been attested to by every single speaker we have heard so far today. I personally enjoyed it to – attending the Delta Scholars commencement, induction ceremony, actually. And I was able to participate and watch healthy alpha achievers were so gentlemanly in everything they did all year. I enjoyed your production in the fall of Peter and the Star Catcher. Were any of you in that? Yes, a few. And the countywide dance festival. I was absolutely awestruck by the performance of the dance teams when you did one giant leap in which you impersonated Neil Armstrong on the moon. It was just fantastic. So now you have to leave, and you want to leave, so many of you have plans to leave this nurturing community to pursue your dreams. As he do, reach out to others as openhearted as you have here at Oakland Mills. Remember that you can pursue your dreams. When you decide to settle down, preferably employed, come back, join us , not as our children but as our peers. Enrich our community with your new skills and creative energies. If you establish roots elsewhere, keep the community of Howard County in your hearts. Remember us as an extended family that valued each one of you. And major educational opportunity a number one priority. Wherever you go, reach out to the next generation of students.

[APPLAUSE]

I am sorry, it is like you are my children. Invest in them your tax dollars, but more important, invest your time and your many, many talents. So with your diploma, I hand you a charge , continue this American tradition, create a haven of safety and love where all children are treasured and where success in education is counted, just like I will beginning you your diplomas, one OM scorpion at a time. Congratulations. Now let’s begin.

[APPLAUSE]

[APPLAUSE]

Begins announcing graduates.

[APPLAUSE]

Well done.

[APPLAUSE]

[reading of graduate names]

[APPLAUSE]

[Continues announcing graduates]

[APPLAUSE]

Ms. French, please allow the following staff members to award their children’s’ diplomas. [announces staff members and their graduates]

[APPLAUSE]

[Continues announcing staff members and their graduates]

[APPLAUSE]

[APPLAUSE]

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

And good afternoon, parents, families, teachers, and graduates. My name is Maggie Attridge, and I have had the pleasure of serving as the class of 2018 President for the last three years. It is with my honor to stand to today graduating with you all. At this time, with the class of 2018 please stand with me and join me in turning of your tassels. Please turn your tassels from right to left.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

Congratulations, class of 2018. We did it! [APPLAUSE]

♪ ♪