VALPARAISO | Graduating seniors at Valparaiso High School were seeing double at commencement ceremonies Friday evening.
It was the first time in the school’s history that twins served as guest speakers at the event.
Seniors Tyler and Amanda Smaga each took their turn at the podium to bid farewell to their fellow graduates and wish them well.
Tyler Smaga, dubbed “a goofball” by senior class president McCaul Sawina in her introduction, recalled a favorite memory for each letter of the alphabet.
“Z is for zippity-do-dah, we’re done,” said Smaga at the end of his speech.
Smaga thanked his class for its support and friendship.
“This class is the reason I wake up every morning,” Smaga said.
Amanda Smaga also honored her classmates and teachers.
“I never imagined how many amazing people would inspire me to keep on trying,” she said. “We were helped by each other. Every single person here today contributed to the success of each of us.”
Valparaiso High School Principal Reid Amones thanked the class for its successful year.
“As a first-year principal, I could not have asked for a better group of young men and women,” Amones said.
Senior Alexander Abraham moved with his family from Sheffield, England, to Valparaiso when he was a freshman.
“It was pretty easy to make friends,” Abraham said.
Abraham enjoyed playing football and attending retreats with his fellow classmates. He will attend Ball State University in the fall.
“I’m ready for something new,” Abraham said.
Ashley Baker was thankful for attending the school because at she felt she wasn’t doing well at her previous school.
“The teachers here are really caring,” Baker said. “They helped me when I was at the bottom to get back to the top, where I’m supposed to be.”
Baker, whose mom, Vernecia, was in the audience, plans to attend a community college in January to become a radiology technician.
“Anything in the health care field,” Baker said. “That’s where the money is.”
In her speech, Amanda Smaga advised her fellow graduates to cherish their memories of high school but also look to the future.
“There is a reason the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror,” she said.