Zionsville Community High School’s commencement Sunday keynote speakers focused on the themes of growth and friendship, inclusiveness and fulfillment.
More than 300 seniors graduated in an afternoon outdoor ceremony at the school’s football stadium.
“Our class had one of the weirdest experiences ever,” valedictorian Zhuhan Shao told classmates, adding that the weirdness became routine after a while. But the class, which was bullied in first grade and became confident upperclassmen, overcame the barriers to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He asked his classmates to remember their growth and perseverance with confidence at times “when life feels like the first day of school again.
“We have every right to be proud of what we have achieved,” Shao said. “When I look out, I see people who will continue to make a difference, who will have a positive impact on the world.”
Keynote speaker Frances Stemme thanked ZCHS teachers and administrators for working incredibly hard to provide educational opportunities for the class and for taking the time to get to know them, especially when the pandemic made this more difficult.
The class of 2022 has many gifts, including intelligence, athleticism, artistic abilities, and more. But leadership is especially prevalent among his peers, Stemme said.
Seniors showed leadership daily in hallways and classrooms, asking questions that paved the way for their peers and showing younger students the ropes, she added.
The class fostered inclusivity and “created a culture of community within our school,” she said.
“We’ve transformed over our years here,” Stemme said, reminding his friends that some days ahead will be difficult and encouraging them to remember to “reach out to the friends you’ve made here.”
“Today is a major achievement, a milestone in our lives,” class president Jocelyn Holdsworth told her peers.
She invited her classmates to look back on their school journey, starting together in kindergarten. Together, she says, they became kind, accomplished individuals, competitors and friends.
“It’s the relationships we had and the memories we made that will be with us long after today,” Holdsworth said.
Jason Fu was the class salutatorian. Twenty-eight class members graduated summa cum laude, 28 magna cum laude, and 32 cum laude.
Elder Charlie Steiner entertained bleachers full of family and friends singing ‘This is the Moment’ and Iris Jordan sang ‘The Impossible Dream’.