MERRILLVILLE — Just over 90 graduates were recently handed diplomas for their hard work and success over the past four years at Andrean High School's 58th annual commencement.
There were smiles, cheers and joy as the graduates were inducted into the alumni association and commended for their achievements and adaptations as students during a pandemic.
Valedictorian Erica Lick, who will be attending Purdue University to study biomedical engineering, told her fellow graduates that they are all dynamic, changing people who are different than they were four years ago and will be different still a year from now.
She reminded them that they aren't defined by their test scores or the number of likes on their social media posts. Rather, she said, people will remember the times you made them smile or came to an event to show support.
Although they didn't learn how to do taxes or how to negotiate buying a car — things she believes are important life skills — she said it's impossible to learn everything one needs to know in just four years. But they did learn hard work, the power of prayer and the fact that the show must go on.
"We're all going down different roads, but I'm glad our paths crossed here," she said to her fellow graduates.
Salutatorian Evan Hartman, who will attend the University of Notre Dame to study neuroscience, also reminded the graduates that change is a natural course of life. In his speech, he spoke of how the small holes that cover the ceiling tiles in the classrooms — 293 holes per tile — have witnessed them undergo those changes, innovate ideas and find success.
"I implore each of you to continue to mature, maintain your autonomy, innovate and continue to win," Hartman said.
The graduates of the Andrean High School class of 2021 were sent out into their next steps in life with three missions: endure, love and unite.
Principal Jaycob Knazur told the graduates that they are inheriting a nation of great division. Whether it be race, class, immigration or election integrity, Knazur told them they can achieve unity by listening to their neighbors and interacting with people who may have different backgrounds, thoughts and opinions than their own.
"Class of 2021, unite our fractured world," Knazur said.
As the ceremony came to a close, the students locked arms and sang the Andrean High School Alma Mater song just before filling the sky with red and gold caps.