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NORDONIA HILLS -- Class officers from the Nordonia High School graduating class of 2017 say they are ready to bid their alma mater farewell.
The class song "It's Time" by Imagine Dragons is indicative of that feeling, with lyrics like "It's time to begin, isn't it?"
Senior class officer Drake Tobias said he believes the seniors are ready to move on.
"The past couple of spirit weeks have been really sappy, and 2017 wasn't really sappy. We're ready to move on," Tobias said, adding this school year was especially "depressing."
Other class officers, including senior Morgan Kiernan, agreed.
"We're all ready to move on; we are not going to dwell," she said.
They then discussed several tragedies that affected student morale this year, including the death of freshman Sarah Bush, who died in April of leukemia, and Carmella Karpovitch, 9, a student at Rushwood Elementary School was killed in an October car crash. One loss hit particularly close to home, as a member of the senior class took his own life earlier this school year.
However, the class officers said they and their fellow students rallied together and did what they could to help by participated in fundraisers and raising awareness. When 6-year-old Northfield Elementary kindergartner Tessa Puma lost the lower half of her left leg following a sudden infection, students across the district wore pink in support of her.
The "pink-out" coincided with Senior Day at the high school, when seniors were supposed to wear college T-shirts; however, senior Emily Lam said most students wore pink to support Tessa instead.
"We do a lot to support each other," Lam said.
Class officer Jaylyn Dickens added the tragedies brought the senior class together.
"Altogether, as a class, we became one big support system for each other because regardless of how close we were I think all of us just really felt bad," she said.
Principal Casey Wright said it is not the work in the classroom, on the athletic fields, or the stage he will remember the most about the class of 2017 -- it was how they coped with their final year in high school.
"This year students were faced with unspeakable tragedy when we lost two of our own," Wright said, referring to the two classmates who died.
"I know they all will have the memories of [them] in their hearts, as they move on to accomplishing so much in their lives," Wright said. "I hope they remember what these two people taught all of us -- to live every day to the fullest and never take life for granted."
On the academic front, Superintendent Dr. Joe Clark said this year's graduating class has "set the bar pretty high for future classes."
"This is the first class to have a community service requirement, and the average student completed twice the amount of service they were required to, for a total of more than 13,000 hours of service to the community," Clark said. "We could not be more proud of their accomplishments and look forward to hearing about the wonderful things they do in the future."
The average community service performed by the 283 graduates was 40 hours, twice the required 20 hours students were required to perform.
Tobias said many students carried on the tradition of Knights caring for Knights, a program in which students buy food, package it and deliver it to community members in need. Another community service project was Adopt-a-Family for each class to raise funds for Christmas presents for local families in need.
Clark said class members earned more than $7 million in scholarships.
There were other bright points in the year.
Tobias said everyone rallied when senior Anthony Perrine he won the state wrestling championship.
And Emily Lam said the class of 2017 is a diverse group with an array of accomplishments in academics, athletics and arts.
The student officers agreed the graduating class as a whole have all set "really high goals" for themselves including medical school and many students plan to attend college.
In all, 203 of the graduates are attending a four-year college, 58 are attending a two-year college, six are entering trade/apprenticeship programs, three are joining the military and 20 plan to go to work full-time.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432