The class of 2017 graduated at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24 at the Kentucky Exposition Center’s Freedom Hall.
The ceremony featured several speakers, including Principal Jerry Mayes, assistant principals, counselors, member of the Jefferson County Board of Education Diane Porter and all of the student class officers.
YPAS Assistant Principal Bryan Crady facilitated the giving of diplomas, calling each student’s name.
Though teachers and principals had to conduct much of the administrative components of the ceremony, the class of 2017 took active roles in their own graduation.
The 2017 class officers’ responsibilities featured Caroline Gribbons (class of 2017, HSU) giving the class president’s address, William Britt (class of 2017, MST) making the senior class request for the audience to hold their applause until Crady called all names, LaRee Shontee (class of 2017, HSU) giving the farewell speech and Stephanie Solis (class of 2017, YPAS) and Giavanna Combs (class of 2017, HSU) leading the tassel and ring element of the ceremony. The YPAS choir ensemble also led the audience in song.
Callie Wright (class of 2017, VA) gave the commencement keynote address. In order to have the opportunity to speak at graduation, Wright had to compete in and win the annual graduation speech competition that the class sponsors hold.
The graduates prepared for their graduation with three rehearsals during school days. Students had differing opinions about the necessity of multiple rehearsals.
“[The rehearsals] were pretty straightforward and didn’t seem too repetitive. I felt like it was the perfect amount of preparation,” Emma Kuntz (class of 2017, HSU) said.
“I thought the two practices seemed to be a bit repetitive,” Connor Schatz (class of 2017, MST) said. “Although, because some students missed the first practice, I would say it was necessary.”
Many of the graduates reflected on both the good and the difficult times that they experienced at Manual and ultimately what they learned from their four years of high school.
“The best part of Manual was meeting my best friends. Being in J&C and joining yearbook gave me the opportunity to meet so many people that I normally never would have talked to,” Alyssa Durbin (class of 2017, J&C) said. “Many of my closest friends are on staff with me, and I absolutely wouldn’t have made it through the stress without them.”
“I really enjoyed the community of Manual and the multitude of options that every student has to involve themselves with school activities,” Schatz said. “Also, I enjoyed that there were plenty of challenging and engaging classes available.”
“The hardest part [of Manual] would have to be managing a homework schedule and actually sticking to it. Self discipline is probably the most important thing Manual teaches you,” Brent Williams (class of 2017, YPAS) said.
“The hardest parts were definitely learning to adjust to the rigor and being in a new place where you’re no longer at the top of the food chain anymore, but the best part is meeting people who are kind of like your family now,” Lindsey Bobb (class of 2017, HSU) said.
The graduates provided parting advice to incoming freshman and the senior class of 2018 and just reflected holistically on what they had learned from their time at Manual.
“Underclassmen: definitely don’t wait until your last year to start going to all the football games and getting involved because looking back you’ll want to remember all of those and be really happy with your high school experience,” Bobb said.
“Stay focused, and don’t worry about what other people say because they all can’t go with you where you’re going,” Williams said.
“Don’t underestimate yourself,” Durbin said. “Throughout my four years at Manual, I learned that I could handle a lot more than I thought I could. At the same time, don’t overestimate your ability to balance everything. Everyone has a different amount that they can handle, and everyone has different circumstances.”
Mayes gave the introductory speech for the graduation in which he reflected on several anecdotal moments of various students and remembered the class of 2017 as being his first class to see through their full four years of high school.
“I’m a little disappointed because it’s starting to get a little loosey-goosey with the crowds,” Mayes said in regards to the crowds cheering during the awarding of diplomas. “We have to stop it because it’s kind of getting out of hand. I’m all for celebrating with everybody . . . but I’m just concerned because we want to hear the next child’s name called.”
Mayes, in an effort to provide one final laugh to the class of 2017, put on sunglasses to imitate chef Guy Fieri. Mayes did this in response to a senior class prank that featured pictures of Mayes and Fieri to emphasize their resemblance.
During the ceremony, the graduates had stood to be recognized in groups categorized by their magnets, dual-credit classes, military appointments, and school legacies.
There were 464 students who graduated as part of the class of 2017. The class accumulated over $80 million in scholarship money offers and was the first class to surpass every benchmark of the ACT and standardized testing that Manual students had set in previous years.
Ms. Allison Hunt and Ms. Beth Stottman were the sponsors for the class of 2017.