Clinton High School selected as its commencement speaker Friday a young woman who can be summed up in one old word.
Elizabeth Childress is spunky. Her laughter is infectious, which means that, when she laughs, people around her do.
“Like everybody else here,” she said, “I’m ready for the rest of my life. … Now that we’re graduating and going out in ‘the real world,’ what kind of persons do we want to be?
“You can’t ‘Google’ what is in your heart. A lot of things are going to change. Some of us are still figuring out if that’s OK.”
Regardless of how all that turns out, she was quick to add, “Clinton High School will always be home.”
They will soon discover that their alma mater isn’t as unique as it seemed on their long-awaited night of triumph. They will interact with others whose ceremonies consisted of similar sentiments, honors, slide shows, and selfies upon selfies.
Principal Maureen Tiller noted that it was “the last time I try to find just the right words to say to you,” and she quoted lyrics of rock songs by the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Tom Petty and others.
Several times the audience heard instructions to hold their applause till the end, but as the graduates were walking across the stage, receiving their diplomas from Tiller and District 56 superintendent Dr. David O’Shields, the discipline began to break down, and a few times, parents overwhelmed by joy at their little girls and little boys becoming women and men, yelped out, and each time it was followed by a hubbub of a minute or more of thousands of people in the school gymnasium whispering to each other about it. The majority of the sound came from the question “what’d they say?”
It was delightfully human.
According to the program, 38 seniors received scholarships of various amounts to various institutions of higher learning. Commencement honored 26 high honor graduates, 48 with honors, 24 in the National Honor Society, 30 in the Beta Club and five in the National Art Honor Society.
Twelve Junior Marshals kept the ebullient seniors in some sense of order, and their number included Emma Pinson, next year’s Student Body President, and Anna Claire Pitts, the Senior Class President.
It was all tasteful, uplifting and pitch-perfect, right down to the final words sung, which were the final words of the alma mater:
“But our love for Clinton High School will never fail.”
One hundred seventy shall not pass this way, at least not exactly this way, again.