436 graduates cast off from Saline High School Sunday, encouraged to travel with faith, love, and hope as commencement ceremonies were held at Hornet Stadium.
United States Air Force Lt. Col. Darren Roach gave the commencement address. Roach graduated from Saline High School in 1987 and attended the University of Miami. When he served on the National Security Council staff, one of his main roles was to make sure President Bill Clinton had access to key information when traveling on Air Force One, in the motorcade, or when traveling abroad.
Roach said he wished for the graduates a life steadfast in faith, joyful in hope and untiring in love.
When he was a student at Saline High School, Roach wanted to study at the University of Miami, but he didn’t spend time pursuing it because it was an expensive private college. One day, he came home and his mother was holding a letter from the University of Miami, offering full tuition and room and board scholarship through the Air Force ROTC.
“My hard work had paid off, but I didn’t even realize it. So, do not give up on your dreams, because they seem unrealistic. Have faith and pursue them,” Roach said.
He told another story of wanting a to apply for job he felt was right for him – but he knew his commanding officer would disapprove. He decided to go for it and he got the job.
“If I had not taken that leap of faith, my Air Force career would have been vastly different,” Roach said. “When opportunities arise, which align with your goals and dreams, go for it and do not be afraid to fail. It does not matter if you fall. It matters that you get back up.”
Roach advised the graduates to proceed with hope.
“Hope inspires a positive attitude, which is a key to success,” Roach said. “Enthusiasm is contagious.”
Roach told the graduates to find and pursue their passions.
“This is what will inspire you and bring you fulfillment. It’s nearly impossible to be successful in the long run if you do not enjoy what you do,” Roach said.
He told the students that if they start a college program or job that are not fulfilling, they should seek a new program or job.
But his message of love was about more than vocation. He told the graduates to love each other.
“We are meant to share this life’s journey with family, friends and those around us,” he said. In the Air Force, pilots and their “wing men” look after each other, assist each other in accomplishing missions and ensure everyone returns home safely.
“When you get to college or the workplace, find your wing men and help each other succeed,” Roach said.
Lauren Charney, president of the class since sophomore year, gave the senior address.
“There is a spark inside everyone. That spark is what makes you want to stand up and create action. We’re going to be the next first responders, doctors, builders, engineers, soldiers and teachers. If we can pull all of our sparks together, we can light the path to a brighter future,” Charney said.
Charney spoke of late classmates Ben Hieber and Ryan Estrada, and asked for a moment of silence in their memory.
Principal David Raft said Saline High School is one of the top schools in the nation. No school in Michigan has a higher percentage of students who pass advanced placement tests. There were four National Merit Finalists and 15 Commended National Merit Scholars. 149 students are graduating with a grade point average of 3.667 or higher. The Class of 2018 has received local scholarships totaling over $107,000 from 38 different contributors. 74 percent of the graduates will attend four-year universities and nine percent will attend two-year educational programs. Others will enroll in skill trade schools, enter the workforce or join the military.
“Regardless of their destination, the lessons they’ve learned at school, in the home and in the community will serve them well as they face their future,” Raft said.
Raft thanked the Class of 2018 for an exceptional year. He imparted some advice while thanking the students.
“Use your talents. Don’t fear the judgment of critics who will watch from the sidelines,” Raft said. “And never be embarrassed to be who you are. Because you are exactly who this world needs right now.”