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CHS Class of 2024 Ready to Branch Out (With Slideshow)

Photo by Crystal Hayduk. A scene from the Class of 2024 graduation day Sunday,

By Crystal Hayduk

Although the sky was mostly cloudy with the threat of rain, temperatures in the mid-60s kept the Class of 2024 graduates from overheating in their caps and gowns at the Jerry Niehaus Stadium on June 2.

Their smiles and the enthusiasm of friends and families lit the afternoon with a special kind of sunshine as they celebrated Chelsea High School’s (CHS) commencement.

Arrayed in their regalia, the group processed around the track to their seats on the field, led by their faculty escorts and backed by a recorded version of Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.” Members of the chamber choir, conducted by Director Ken Davis, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” to open the ceremony.

In his welcoming remarks, CHS Principal Dr. Nick Angel used a tree as a metaphor for the graduating class. Beginning as seeds, the students have grown into magnificent trees with the care, nourishment, and dedication that have provided a foundation of strong roots. Now, with their branches, they are ready for new opportunities, challenges, and adventures.

After reciting a lengthy list of class and individual accomplishments in academics, athletics, and extracurriculars, Angel said the community of Chelsea celebrates with the graduates. His advice: “Remember where you come from.”

Superintendent Mike Kapolka, also addressed the class. “Start with the end in mind,” he said. Kapolka encouraged the students to work hard, with perseverance and diligence, to engage with others and make a difference. Life is not just the big milestones, but the journey along the way, he said.

On behalf of the board of education, Kapolka certified the members of the Class of 2024 as graduates of Chelsea High School.

Two members of the class, who were chosen by their peers, spoke at commencement.

Photo by Crystal Hayduk. Mitchell Brown.

Mitchell Brown was a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), Link Crew, Student Council, and Key Club, and is a record-holding diving champion.

From the platform of the question adults frequently ask students beginning at an early age, “What do you want to do when you grow up,” Brown plunged into a review of starting high school via Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic to the challenges of taking AP classes as an upperclassman.

Brown said accomplishments do not define a person, and what one has done in the past does not firmly establish the future.

He believes the better question is “Who do you want to be?” His suggestions included characteristics such as “kind, driven, creative, confident, forgiving, and determined.”

Photo by Crystal Hayduk. Thomas Olaveson.

Thomas Olaveson was the president of NHS, a member of the state champion Personal Finance Team, and was on the hockey and golf teams.

Olaveson gave a speech laced with humor that kept the audience chuckling. With a note of gravitas, he said that he believes the Class of 2024 was impacted the most by the pandemic shutdown. He remembered “the day the mask came off” and how “naked and vulnerable” he felt after not seeing the faces of classmates for nearly two years.

He thanked the teachers, especially Valerie Johnson, for teaching the importance of “soft skills” such as communication and teamwork. He also thanked administration, who are “underappreciated” for their work behind-the-scenes.

Olaveson said, “The hardest day of high school is the last.”      

Class of 2024:

Class Motto – “The best is yet to come.” 

Class Song – “Good Old Days” by Macklemore

Faculty Escorts – Erin Dillon, Heather Hugg, Valerie Johnson, Matt Pedlow, Tyler Santoro, and Martha Waldo                                              

Class Advisor – Martha Waldo

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